Tainted Evidence Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Tainted Evidence, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Tainted Evidence?

The evidences which are inadmissible by the criminal court because the method used to gather information/evidence is illegal.

History and Meaning of Tainted Evidence

Tainted evidence is a legal term used to describe any evidence that has been obtained illegally or through improper means, and which is therefore not admissible in court. This term is used in criminal law to ensure that evidence obtained in violation of a person’s legal rights, such as the right to due process, is not used to convict them of a crime. The exclusion of tainted evidence is based on the principle that the fruits of the poisonous tree should be excluded from the trial, which means that any evidence that is derived from an illegally obtained evidence is also inadmissible.

Courts apply this principle to prevent police misconduct and to protect civil liberties guaranteed in the Constitution of the United States. The principles of the exclusionary rule were first articulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in Mapp v. Ohio in 1961, as a means of excluding evidence that is obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution.

Examples of Tainted Evidence

  1. A wiretap recording of a conversation between two suspects that was obtained without a warrant.
  2. A confession that was obtained through coercion or without being read Miranda rights.
  3. Physical evidence that was obtained through an illegal search and seizure, such as property that was taken without a warrant or without a valid consent.

Legal Terms Similar to Tainted Evidence

  1. Fruit of the poisonous tree: This term refers to evidence that indirectly results from a constitutional violation or illegal search and seizure.
  2. Miranda rights: These are the rights read to a person upon arrest, which confers upon them the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney present during questioning.
  3. Exclusionary rule: This is the principle that evidence obtained through illegal means should not be admissible in court.