At his trial on the charge of sale of narcotics the defendant testified that he never sold or possessed narcotics. The government then sought to introduce evidence that it had unreasonably seized (a heroin capsule that had been found in his possession). The trial judge admitted this evidence over the defendant’s objection that the police had obtained the heroin capsule through an unlawful search and seizure.Whether unconstitutionally seized evidence is admissible for impeachment purposes?
Whether unconstitutionally seized evidence is admissible for impeachment purposes?
Yes. The exclusionary rule does not create a license for the defendant to commit perjury.
The government cannot violate the Fourth Amendment and use the fruits of such unlawful conduct to secure a conviction. Nor can it use such evidence to support a conviction on evidence obtained through leads from the unlawfully obtained evidence. However, the defendant cannot turn the existence of the exclusionary rule to his own advantage by using it as a license to commit perjury on direct examination. The defendant’s assertion on direct examination that he had never possessed narcotics opens the door, solely for the purpose of attacking his credibility. The illegally seized evidence can be used for impeachment purposes.
347 U.S. 62, 74 S. Ct. 354 (1954)