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Is evidence illegally obtained if given via a third party?

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  • Is evidence illegally obtained if given via a third party?

    So I'm considering writing a crime drama and a plot point I'm considering is when a thief offers evidence to a cop to take down a mutual enemy. I'm curious though if a criminal goes and says "I got this from his house and I can prove it's his it's not like you stole it and really whose to say how you found it." I'm just wondering if it would be considered illegally obtained evidence or not.

  • #2
    Fruit of the poisonous tree is still fruit of the poisonous tree, no matter who picked it.
    What does not kill you will likely try again.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Ratatatat View Post
      Fruit of the poisonous tree is still fruit of the poisonous tree, no matter who picked it.
      This is incorrect. There cannot be a "fruit of the poisonous tree" moment involving a civilian who is not acting at the direction of LE, because the Constitution only restricts what the government can do, not private citizens. Real life case in point: In our county a guy was molesting his relative's children, they lived next door to each other. One of the kids tells dad that it's happening and that bad guy video recorded it. They described the room where it happened and where he put the camera. So, dad secretly goes into the house and retrieves the camera with the HD card containing all the videos of the guy in the act of molesting his girls and turns it over to the Sheriff's Office. The evidence is used against the guy and is totally admissible, because the fourth amendment only applies to the government, not citizens. Now, if in the example case the victims' father went to the cops first and they TOLD him to go get the camera, then he'd have been converted into an agent of the government and the exclusionary rule would apply to the evidence. As to the OP's original question, there would be chain of custody issues to deal with that would be very hard to overcome in the scenario he presented, but fourth amendment issues would not be a factor.
      Be dangerous, and unpredictable... and make a lot of noise. - John Bush, Anthrax

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      • Iowa #1603
        Iowa #1603 commented
        Editing a comment
        absolutely
        correct

    • #4
      Originally posted by KaneM View Post
      So I'm considering writing a crime drama and a plot point I'm considering is when a thief offers evidence to a cop to take down a mutual enemy. I'm curious though if a criminal goes and says "I got this from his house and I can prove it's his it's not like you stole it and really whose to say how you found it." I'm just wondering if it would be considered illegally obtained evidence or not.
      Legally the evidence could be used from a Constitutional perspective, but the chain of custody would be shot. The police would need to be able to say where and how the evidence was obtained, they can't just say "Well this guy gave it to us but we don't know how he got it". You have to be able to authenticate evidence for it to get admitted. No defense attorney in the world is going to just roll over and let the prosecution introduce evidence that doesn't have a clearly established chain.
      Be dangerous, and unpredictable... and make a lot of noise. - John Bush, Anthrax

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      • #5
        Someone breaks into someone else's house and grabs something of evidentiary value and goes to the police with it. Ask 10 prosecutors if it could be used in court and you'll get 10 answers.


        RE: child molestation example. Anyone whose worked in the CJ realm for more than a day knows much greater latitude exists in these situations (rightfully so) when it comes to evidence and how it was obtained....

        What does not kill you will likely try again.

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        • #6
          Originally posted by Ratatatat View Post
          Someone breaks into someone else's house and grabs something of evidentiary value and goes to the police with it. Ask 10 prosecutors if it could be used in court and you'll get 10 answers.


          RE: child molestation example. Anyone whose worked in the CJ realm for more than a day knows much greater latitude exists in these situations (rightfully so) when it comes to evidence and how it was obtained....
          Unless you’re a Clinton or Biden...
          Now go home and get your shine box!

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          • #7
            Originally posted by Ratatatat View Post
            Someone breaks into someone else's house and grabs something of evidentiary value and goes to the police with it. Ask 10 prosecutors if it could be used in court and you'll get 10 answers.
            From a fourth amendment perspective, no. Depending on the totality of the circumstances, you may have a chain of custody issue, but as far as the admissibility on fourth amendment grounds, the answer will always be the same.

            RE: child molestation example. Anyone whose worked in the CJ realm for more than a day knows much greater latitude exists in these situations (rightfully so) when it comes to evidence and how it was obtained....
            This is incorrect. The fourth amendment and rules of evidence remain the same regardless of the type of case it is. I've seen a case get tossed for going too far on a computer search before a warrant was secured and the warrant being based on that search, so the whole hard drive and all the incriminating evidence was ruled inadmissible. There is no child molesting exception to the warrant requirement.
            Last edited by Georgetime; 11-03-2020, 04:40 PM.
            Be dangerous, and unpredictable... and make a lot of noise. - John Bush, Anthrax

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            • #8
              And some of us who are REAL Police have seen judges allow things BECAUSE it’s a child.

              Just because you THINK you have an opinion, doesn’t mean you’re correct.
              Now go home and get your shine box!

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              • #9
                Originally posted by CCCSD View Post
                And some of us who are REAL Police have seen judges allow things BECAUSE it’s a child.

                Just because you THINK you have an opinion, doesn’t mean you’re correct.
                This friggin' clown shoe again. You wouldn't make a pimple on this cop's rear end, squirt. Kick rocks, troll.
                Be dangerous, and unpredictable... and make a lot of noise. - John Bush, Anthrax

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                • #10
                  The 'chain of evidence' could be 'solved' if the person who obtained the evidence were to testify 'I got these items and took them directly to Officer X'. Of course, then the witness could be open to a charge of theft/burglary from the defendant.
                  "A man who has nothing which he cares about more than he does about his personal safety is a miserable creature who has no chance of being free, unless made and kept so by the existing of better men than himself."
                  John Stuart Mill

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                  • #11
                    Originally posted by CCCSD View Post
                    And some of us who are REAL Police have seen judges allow things BECAUSE it’s a child.
                    Thats true, it does happen but you don’t want to bet that way.
                    "I am a Soldier. I fight where I'm told and I win where I fight." -- GEN George S. Patton, Jr.

                    "With a brother on my left and a sister on my right, we face…. We face what no one should face. We face, so no one else would face. We are in the face of Death." -- Holli Peet

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