What is the “fruit of the poisonous tree?”

On Behalf of | Sep 7, 2021 | Criminal Defense |

The legal system uses some strange terms that the average person might find confusing. Sometimes, the use of a word in a legal matter has a different meaning than it might have in common language. Other times, the phrases used to describe certain legal concepts confuse the public.

Sometimes, when there is a question about whether certain evidence or a confession is admissible in criminal court proceedings, lawyers will use the term “fruit of the poisonous tree.” What does this phrase mean in a criminal defense setting?

One example involves Miranda warning violations

Your Miranda rights are arguably your most basic rights after your arrest by law enforcement. For example, you need to know about your right to remain silent and your right to ask for legal representation in order to utilize those rights.

If the police failed to provide you with your Miranda warning, the information that they received from you after that point could constitute fruit of the poisonous tree. Essentially, it becomes useless by virtue of how they obtained it.

If you some believe that the police violated your rights during questioning, possibly by not advising you of your Miranda rights or doing so in a way that prevented you from asserting them, you may have made statements to the police that affect your criminal case.

Connecting your confession, evidence located after your interrogation or statements in court with a violation of your Miranda rights could potentially lead the court to toss out all of that contaminated evidence. Understanding your rights when you’re arrested can allow you make the best decisions on how to proceed.


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