Legal Memorandum: Evidence under the Exclusionary Rule in TX

Issue: Under the laws of the state of Texas, under what circumstances will a court exclude from evidence those items that were seized during an unlawful search?

Area of Law: Constitutional Law, Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Unlawful searches and seizures; Evidence under the exclusionary rule; Admissibility
Jurisdiction: Texas
Cited Cases: 939 S.W.2d 586; 861 S.W.2d 890; 896 S.W.2d 277; 934 S.W.2d 788; 931 S.W.2d 30
Cited Statutes: Tex. Code Crim. P. Ann. art. 38.23(a); Tex. Penal Code Ann. § 30.05 (West 1994 & Supp. 1998), § 30.02, § 31.03
Date: 02/01/2001

Even broader than every citizen’s federal constitutional right to be free from unlawful searches and seizures is the Texas citizen’s right to have excluded from a case against him or her any evidence illegally seized.  Texas’ exclusionary rule clearly and broadly governs the admission of evidence in every Texas criminal matter.

            No evidence obtained by an officer or other person in violation of any provisions of the Constitution or laws of the State of Texas, or of the Constitution or laws of the United States of America, shall be admitted in evidence against the accused on the trial of any criminal case.

Tex. Code Crim. P. Ann. art. 38.23(a) (West Supp. 1998) (emphasis added).  In Texas, the defendant has the plain and irrefutable right to suppression of evidence that was obtained illegally—whether in violation of constitutional provisions or state or federal laws, and whether by an officer or private individual.  The Texas criminal defendant has the absolute right to challenge evidence under the exclusionary rule on the ground that "a private person in a private capacity" took it unlawfully.  Crunk v. State, 934 S.W.2d 788, 793 (Tex. App.—Houston [14th Dist.] 1996), pet. ref’d (Apr. 16, 1997).

Admitting such evidence is an abuse of discretion.  "Of course, a trial court necessarily abuses its discretion if it refuses to suppress evidence that was obtained […]

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