Browse Definitions:
Definition

fruit of a poisonous tree

Contributor(s): Ivy Wigmore

Fruit of the poisonous tree is a legal doctrine according to which any secondary evidence obtained indirectly through illicit means is inadmissible in court. 

Examples of such sources include evidence gained through eavesdropping, illegal wiretapping, coercive interrogations, unwarranted searches, or improperly conducted arrests. Information obtained from those sources is inadmissible according to the law of exclusion. The fruit of a poisonous tree doctrine is an extension to that law. 

Here's one possible scenario: If an illegally conducted electronic discovery (e-discovery) search yields information about corporate espionage, that information cannot be presented as evidence in court, according to the law of exclusion. If other information learned through the search leads investigators to search a public location, where they uncover evidence of another crime, the doctrine of the poisonous tree disqualifies that evidence for presentation in any legal action. 

Both the law of exclusion and the fruit of a poisonous tree doctrine were created to discourage law enforcement officials from using illegal activities in efforts to obtain evidence. 

This was last updated in February 2015

Continue Reading About fruit of a poisonous tree

Join the conversation

4 comments

Send me notifications when other members comment.

By submitting you agree to receive email from TechTarget and its partners. If you reside outside of the United States, you consent to having your personal data transferred to and processed in the United States. Privacy

Please create a username to comment.

And then there was the story of a hacker living in Russia who extorted money from a US firm and was hunted by the FBI. Attempts at cooperation were not successful as the Russian authorities stated, hacking is not illegal in Russia. Later, as the story goes, the FBI was able themselves to access this man's computer in Russia, and found out his real identity. They then tricked him into coming to the US, where he was promptly arrested. At his trial, his attorney made a motion to dismiss the case as the FBI had performed an illegal access or "hacking" of the man's computer. Much to their surprise, the judge dismissed their motion, stating that the FBI's actions were ok, as hacking was not illegal in Russia!
Cancel
The exception to "fruit of the poisonous tree" occurs under "inevitable discovery," evidence which might be inadmissible can sometimes become admissible if the judge can prove that, absent finding the inadmissible evidence the police would have continued looking and would have found it anyway, then the judge may admit the evidence anyway,
Cancel
I meant to say under "inevitable discovery" the evidence may become admissible if the police prove they would have found it; the judge doesn't prove anything.
Cancel
The "fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine" had to be created to give the Constitution some teeth. If you allowed the evidence and presumed police officers would be punished for misconduct, well, that almost never happens. So there was no penalty and every incentive to ignore constitutional protections. By making illegal searches useless, they stop happening. I'm not really sure if I agree with "inevitable discovery" because the police might use it as a figleaf to claim an inevitable discovery and hide the fact that the illegal evidence gave them ideas on other places to look, and that other evidence might not be as inevitably discovered as the police claim it would have been.
Cancel

-ADS BY GOOGLE

File Extensions and File Formats

Powered by:

SearchCompliance

SearchSecurity

  • black hat

    Black hat refers to a hacker who breaks into a computer system or network with malicious intent.

  • copyright

    Copyright is a legal term describing ownership of control of the rights to the use and distribution of certain works of creative ...

  • keylogger (keystroke logger or system monitor)

    A keylogger, sometimes called a keystroke logger or system monitor, is a type of surveillance technology used to monitor and ...

SearchHealthIT

  • population health management (PHM)

    Population health management (PHM) is a discipline within the healthcare industry that studies and facilitates care delivery ...

  • ICD-10-PCS

    The International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision, Procedure Coding System (ICD-10-PCS) is a U.S. cataloging system for...

  • U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM)

    The U.S. National Library of Medicine (NLM) is the largest biomedical library in the world.

SearchDisasterRecovery

  • business continuity plan (BCP)

    A business continuity plan (BCP) is a document that consists of the critical information an organization needs to continue ...

  • call tree

    A call tree -- sometimes referred to as a phone tree -- is a telecommunications chain for notifying specific individuals of an ...

  • mass notification system (MNS)

    A mass notification system is a platform that sends one-way messages to inform employees and the public of an emergency.

SearchStorage

  • open source storage

    Open source storage is data storage software developed in a public, collaborative manner that permits the free use, distribution ...

  • CompactFlash card (CF card)

    A CompactFlash card (CF card) is a memory card format developed by SanDisk in 1994 that uses flash memory technology to store ...

  • email archiving

    Email archiving (also spelled e-mail archiving) is a systematic approach to saving and protecting the data contained in email ...

SearchSolidStateStorage

  • RRAM or ReRAM (resistive RAM)

    RRAM or ReRAM (resistive random access memory) is a form of nonvolatile storage that operates by changing the resistance of a ...

  • JEDEC

    JEDEC is a global industry group that develops open standards for microelectronics.

  • M.2 SSD

    An M.2 SSD is a solid-state drive (SSD) that conforms to a computer industry specification written for internally mounted storage...

SearchCloudStorage

  • RESTful API

    A RESTful application program interface breaks down a transaction to create a series of small modules, each of which addresses an...

  • cloud storage infrastructure

    Cloud storage infrastructure is the hardware and software framework that supports the computing requirements of a private or ...

  • Zadara VPSA and ZIOS

    Zadara Storage provides block, file or object storage with varying levels of compute and capacity through its ZIOS and VPSA ...

Close