General Rule Regarding the Exclusion of Evidence

Consequently, the Fourth Amendment confers upon the people of the United States the right to be protected against unreasonable searches and seizures. The remedy or effect of an unreasonable search and seizure is that the items unreasonably seized in violation of the Fourth Amendment may not be admitted into evidence in a criminal proceeding. This exclusion of evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment is known as the “exclusionary rule.” The United States Supreme Court in the case of Mapp v. Ohio (367) U.S. 643 (1961) made the application of the federal exclusionary rule applicable to states.

The primary purpose of the exclusionary rule is to deter future unlawful police conduct and thereby effectuate the guarantee of the Fourth Amendment against unreasonable searches and seizures.

Whether a search is unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment, and therefore requires exclusion of evidence, turns upon whether a person has a constitutionally protected reasonable expectation of privacy, i.e., whether he or she has manifested a subjective expectation of privacy in the object of the particular search that society is willing to recognize as reasonable.

People V. Garcia (1969) 274 Cal.App. 2d 100

In the case of People v. Garcia, Mr. Garcia was stopped by a private citizen, Thomas Edwards, at an apartment complex. Mr. Edwards, the manager of the apartment complex, observed defendant looking through a window of an apartment that had been a subject of prior burglaries. Edwards thought Garcia intended to burglarize the apartment. Defendant Garcia ran from Edwards. Edwards caught up to Garcia. Garcia tried to break away and a fight ensued. During the struggle Garcia hit Edwards in the chest and in the arm.

The police arrived shortly thereafter. Pursuant to the advice of the officers, Edwards placed Mr. Garcia under citizen’s arrest. The officers then conducted a pat down search for weapons. The officers felt broken glass through the clothing of Mr. Garcia. Believing the broken glass could be used as a weapon the officer reached into the pocket of Mr. Garcia and located broken eyeglasses. The officer also retrieved from this pocket several cigarettes which turned out to be marijuana.

At the time of trial defendant Garcia moved to strike the evidence obtained in the search on the basis that it was not seized pursuant to a legal arrest. Garcia argued that the citizen’s arrest was illegal and that there was no arrest by the police officers before the search and no probable cause for arrest. Consequently, the search was not incident to a lawful arrest. The Court of Appeal found that Edwards had a right to arrest defendant for a public offense committed or attempted in his presence. The Court agreed with the contention that Garcia committed attempted burglary, disorderly conduct, trespass and assault and battery in the presence of Mr. Edwards. Consequently, the citizen’s arrest was valid. The Court explained:

“When Edwards took defendant by the arm and told him he was going to call the police he effected a citizen’s arrest which, as pointed out above, he was justified in making for attempted burglary, disorderly conduct and trespass. [Citations omitted.] At that time it was defendant’s duty to remain passive. [Citations omitted.] When [Garcia] struck Edwards on the chest and arms it constituted an assault even though defendant’s objective may have been escape or withdrawal . . . Accordingly, when defendant resisted the arrest and assaulted Edwards he added another crime to those for which he had been arrested.”