Police officers often make a lot of mistakes during an investigation or an arrest. When these errors happen, they can have a dramatic impact on the case, even if that arrest is still made.
One example of this is the doctrine known as the fruit of the poisonous tree. This generally refers to evidence of some type that has been obtained in an illegal fashion or evidence that has been gathered after a previous illegal action was already taken. That evidence can usually not be used in court.
Conducting an illegal search
One of the more common illustrations of this is if the police carry out an illegal search of your home. Say they arrive at your house and it’s not an emergency, and they ask to come inside and take a look around. As is your right, you tell them that they can’t unless they come back with a warrant.
The police decide that they don’t want to go get a warrant, and they come in against your wishes. While in the house, they find evidence that seems very incriminating, and they arrest you.
Under the fruit of the poisonous tree, that evidence may have to be thrown out of court because it should never have been found. The police should never have been in your house without your consent or without a warrant. Anything gathered afterward no longer counts toward the case, which may mean that they suddenly have no evidence.
You can see how something like this can derail the prosecution’s entire case and get the charges dropped. Make sure you know what steps to take if you believe this is what’s happened to you.