Illinois v. Krull, 480 U.S. 340 (1987)

The U.S. Supreme Court adopted the Fourth Amendment exclusionary rule in Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961), to deter unreasonable searches and seizures. The ‘‘good faith’’ exception to the exclusionary rule, which was created by the U.S. Supreme Court in U.S. v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984), allows evidence seized by the police executing a facially valid search warrant issued by a judge to be admitted in court even though the search warrant was later found to be invalid.

In Illinois v. Krull, 480 U.S. 340 (1987), the high court extended the ‘‘good faith’’ exception to cover searches conducted in good-faith reliance upon a state statute that was later determined to be invalid. An Illinois state statute permitted the police to examine the license and records of those who sold motor vehicles and vehicular parts without probable cause or a search warrant. A Chicago Police Department detective arrived at an automobile wrecking yard operated by Krull and, pursuant to the state statute, examined the vehicles in the yard. The search of the vehicles turned up three that had been stolen.

After his arrest for possession of stolen motor vehicles, Krull filed a motion to suppress the evidence obtained during the search of the vehicles, arguing that the police officer’s reliance on the state statute authorizing a warrantless search was unreasonable and in violation of the Fourth Amendment. The state trial court granted the motion to suppress, stating that the warrantless search permitted by the state statute gave police unrestricted discretion and therefore was unconstitutional. The Illinois Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s decision and held that the exclusionary rule was not applicable to the evidence seized during the warrantless search permitted by the state statute.

The U.S. Supreme Court reversed the Illinois Supreme Court and applied the ‘‘good faith’’ exception to those situations in which the police rely upon a state statute authorizing a warrantless search, even though the statute is subsequently held unconstitutional. The Court felt that applying the exclusionary rule in such cases would not deter police misconduct and thus exclusion of the evidence would serve no legitimate purpose.

JENNIFER J. ASHLEY

Cases and Statutes Cited

  • Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961)
  • U.S. v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984)

See also Exclusionary Rule

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