Results of Illegal Searches and Seizures

Authored By: Carl Vinson Institute
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This document tells you the following:

  • What does the exclusionary rule apply to and what can happen when it is applied?
  • What happens when evidence is uncovered and seized by the police illegally?
  • What are "1983" suits?


The exclusionary rule was defined by the U.S. Supreme Court in the 1961 case of Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961).

The exclusionary rule says that illegally obtained evidence cannot be used to convict a person of a crime. The rule applies to illegally obtained confessions. It applies with equal force to illegally arrested persons and any evidence that is discovered incident to an illegal arrest. In short, it applies to any evidence seized in an illegal manner.

What can happen when the exclusionary rule is applied? See Peoples v. State, 216 S.E. 2d 604 (1975).

 If an arrest were declared illegal, the search would also be illegal.

All evidence from a warrantless search that does not fit into one of the recognized exceptions would be excluded from a trial.

Cases in which an illegal arrest or search occurs may be dismissed.

The police could then be sued by the person who has been subjected to the illegal action.Suits of this kind can be tort actions for recovery of damages, or they may be civil rights actions

* Excerpted from An Introduction to Law in Georgia, Fourth Edition, published by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, 1998 (updated 2004). The Vinson Institute is not responsible for errors in the online text. Content is for information only; in no way should the information in the book be considered legal advice to anyone on any matter for which there are legal implications. Any such matter should be specifically addressed with an attorney. The book is available for purchase ator by contacting the Publications Program, Carl Vinson Institute of Government, University of Georgia, 201 M. Milledge Avenue, Athens, GA 30602; telephone 706-542-6377; fax 706-542-6239.

Last Review and Update: Jul 30, 2004