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Utah v. Strieff Case - Paper Example

4 pages
1002 words
Carnegie Mellon University
Type of paper: 
Case study
This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional essay writers.

On 22nd of February 2016, a case was argued in the supreme court of Utah. Edward Strieff was arrested unconstitutionally by narcotics detective Mr. Fackrell. This happened after officer Fackrell suspected drug activity from the house of Edward Strieff located in the City of South Salt Lake in Utah, United States. On inspection, Strieff was found with drugs that were identified to be methamphetamine and others. Strieff then claimed that the officer conducted an unlawful investigation or in other terms stop. In other words, Officer Douglas Fackrell was accused by the suspect for breaking the 4th amendment of the United States. On hearing the case, Utah court affirmed the case and the evidence were therefore suppressed in regards to the aim that the suspect, Edward Strieff, had.

The main dispute, in this case, was that Edward Strieff was a suspect in conducting drug activities and this is due to surveillance that the narcotics detective had conducted. However, despite the claim of Strieff that Fackrell conducted an unlawful investigation, he (Strieff) had an arrest warrant for the violation of traffic policies. The cause of the ruling from the Utah court of appeal was based on the act of Mr. Fackrell detaining Strieff at a parking lot and searching him. And this was therefore unlawful in unites states. The surveillance process began in the year 2006 after an unidentified person called detective Fackrell to report unusual behavior in south Salt Lake City (Utah v. Strieff, 4).

The 4th amendment of the constitution of United States protects citizens against seizures and searches that are unreasonable. The constitution, therefore, requires the issuing of the arrest warrant so as to proceed with the search and other processes of investigation. However, despite the fact the officer did not provide an arrest warrant for the suspect, there is no evidence that there was misconduct in the search and therefore the investigatory stop was attenuated by already existing arrest warrant and this was then termed to be a lawful arrest (Utah v. Streiff, 2016). The attenuation, in this case, was meant to safeguard the evidence that was found against Strieff by the officer through the search that had been found illegal. In other words, the attenuation suppressed the doctrine that is attained or rather was meant for the 4th amendment. According to Justice Thomas, the rationale for the courts ruling in the courts of appeal in Utah was based on the balance between the cost of exclusion and the deterrent benefits of using the evidence obtained during the search (United States v. Sharpe 470 U.S. 675, 676). It was, therefore, through this reasoning that on 20th June 2016, judgment was reversed and the case now on the drug activity was heard and judgment issued on 22nd July 2016.

The earlier issuing of the valid arrest warrant was sufficient enough to break the chain of the unconstitutional investigatory stop on the fourth amendment of the United States. This was adequate reasoning for the protection of the evidence that was earlier on collected from the suspect Edward Strieff. The court holding in this case is based on the exceptions over the attenuation doctrine that is a criterion in the lawful violation of the 4th amendment. According to Sack, (2017), detective Fackrell had conducted efficient surveillance and therefore he had sufficient suspicion to stop the petitioner and conduct a search. With this, therefore, the case applied by the petitioner, Strieff was nullified with reference to the attenuation exception of the investigatory stop found in the 4th amendment (States v. Strieff p. 3d 532.)

In this case, several factors can be used to describe the attenuation exceptions of the exclusionary rule of stop and that is; the cost to be incurred in conducting surveillance against Strieff. The type of cost, in this case, can either be monetary or time factor. This can be found from the fact that, detective Fackrell first got the information in 2006 all the time to the time the evidence was found and that is addition to this, there was a sure need for the court to use the already existing evidence against Strieff since there was already existence of a valid arrest warrant despite it being from the traffic department. To add on this, there was sufficient surveillance from the detective that fruitfully led to efficient evidence against Strieff; therefore, this was enough in breaking the chain of the exclusionary rule.

Apart from the attenuation doctrine, there are other exceptions to the exclusionary rule that was also applied in this case. This was the inevitable discovery rule. In the description, this is evidence that was obtained illegally and that would have still been obtained through the legal means. The reason for this is, the fact the cost of exclusion outweighed the benefit of already existing evidence was validated. It is therefore through this case that the motion of Strieff to suppress the already existing evidence was dismissed in the court of appeal in Utah and the case, therefore, proceeded to hear and final ruling of the court (Gong, 2015).

In conclusion, the applicability of the 4th amendment depends on the exceptions of the exclusionary rule in such a way that, if all the criteria above have not been met, then the petitioner can apply for a trial for the suppression of the evidence collected illegally. In this case, the probability of the case to be dismissed is high. However, if the one or more of the exceptions have been met in the process of surveillance, then the trial to suppress the evidence collected can be denied and this means that evidence collected through illegal ways can be used in the current case.


Gong, Z. (2015). Utah v. Strieff and the Future of the Exceptions to the Exclusionary Rule. Duke J. Const. L. & Pub. Pol'y Sidebar, 11, 291.Sack, E. J. (2017). Illegal Stops and the Exclusionary Rule: The Rule of Consequences of Utah v. Streiff. Roger Williams UL Rev., 22, 263.Utah v. Strieff. Certiorari to The Supreme Court Of Utah, 1-31 (Utah Court of Appeals) Https://

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