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Frequently Asked Questions

How does the U.S. Supreme Court enforce the Fourth Amendment through the good faith exception?

The U.S. Supreme Court enforces the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, through the good faith exception. This exception is a legal doctrine that allows evidence gathered illegally to be used in a trial if the police believed their actions were legal. The good faith exception was created by the U.S. Supreme Court with the mindset that all people involved act on their best behavior, or the exception is inapplicable. The good faith exception is an exception to the original exclusionary rule, which held the police completely responsible for any violations of constitutional law. The good faith rule, however, allows the courts to also consider the police officer’s mental state. This means that if a police officer made a mistake in their action but had reasonable intentions, the evidence gathered could still be used in court. The good faith exception is not universally applied. Some states opt not to invoke the good faith exception, while others will only use it in a few circumstances. However, courts typically rule in good faith, meaning they act with honesty and integrity, and with the expectation that promises will be kept without taking advantage of someone else.

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