The Court ruled that evidence against her could not be used because it was obtained without a warrant and therefore in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments. In ruling this way, the Court applied the federal exclusionary rule to the states through the doctrine of incorporation.
The exclusionary rule holds that evidence seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment may not be used against the accused at trial. Some students will say that this rule is the essence of justice. It ensures checks and balances in government before someone’s home and papers can be searched by forcing the police—agents of the executive branch—to get a warrant from a court—the judicial branch—in order to perform a search. Allowing illegally seized evidence to be used at trial would be like giving police permission to search wherever and whenever they wanted. Others will say that the exclusionary rule goes too far by excluding the evidence obtained. The police should face stiff punishment for violating citizens’ rights, but excluding any evidence obtained hinders justice by sometimes allowing criminals to go free. Everyone then pays the price for the police’s misconduct.