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What is Fruit from the Poisonous Tree?

There is concept in American law called “fruit from the poisonous tree.” It refers to evidence that was collected after some illegal or improper activity. The Supreme Court has ruled that any such type of evidence should be excluded from trial. It can be a major help to someone  charged with a serious crime. A defense lawyer can examine your situation to determine if this doctrine applies to your case. If it does, they will fight to make sure that any evidence gathered from this is excluded.

An example of this would be an invalid police stop that yields drugs in the vehicle. Because the initial stop was invalid, nothing that is found from the stop can be brought up at trial. There is a case in South Carolina that illustrates this perfectly: State v. Jihad 347 S.C. 12 (2001) 553 S.E.2d 249. In that case, a driver was pulled over for having a broken tail light. Police eventually searched the vehicle and allegedly found large amounts of marijuana. But because a person in South Carolina needs only one working tail light and not two, the search was deemed invalid.

While the state law matters are unique to South Carolina, the principal still applies to Oregon. A person raising this defense, however, will need to prove that there was some kind of illegal or improper activity that led to the evidence. It can be difficult to prove, but with a skilled defense attorney is it entirely possible to successfully mount this defense.

At Kroll & Johnson, we will closely examine the facts of your case to determine if this doctrine applies. If so, we will aggressively fight to make sure that your rights are defended. If you have been arrested, contact the attorneys at Kroll & Johnson right away for a free consultation.

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