Doctrine of Inevitable Discovery

Doctrine of Inevitable Discovery

Inevitable discovery is a doctrine in United States criminal procedure that allows evidence to be admitted in court if it can be shown that the evidence would have inevitably been discovered through lawful means, even if an illegal search or seizure initially occurred.

The doctrine is based on the idea that excluding evidence that would have been discovered anyway serves no purpose in protecting constitutional rights, as the same evidence would have been obtained by lawful means. It provides an exception to the exclusionary rule, which generally prohibits the use of evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures.

For the doctrine of inevitable discovery to apply, the prosecution must establish two main elements. First, they must demonstrate that the evidence in question would have been discovered by lawful means. This typically involves presenting evidence that the police had an independent, untainted source or a valid warrant to obtain the evidence.

Second, the prosecution must show that the discovery of the evidence was inevitable. This can be established by demonstrating that the police were already actively pursuing the evidence or that it would have been discovered during routine, standard investigative procedures.

Courts consider various factors in determining whether the doctrine of inevitable discovery applies, including the timing and nature of the independent lawful source, the relationship between the tainted evidence and the lawful source, and the likelihood of discovery through lawful means.

The doctrine of inevitable discovery is aimed at striking a balance between protecting individual rights and allowing for the admission of evidence that would have been obtained through lawful channels. It recognises that the exclusionary rule should not be applied in cases where the same evidence would have been obtained anyway, thereby preventing the potential suppression of relevant and reliable evidence in criminal proceedings.
Back to blog
UOL Case Bank

UOL Case Bank

Upon joining, you become a valuable UOL student and gain instant access to over 2,100 case summaries. UOL Case Bank is constantly expanding. Speed up your revision with us now.

Subscribe Now

Where are our students from?

Yale University
Council of Europe
Baker Mckenzie 
University of Chicago
Columbia University
New York University
University of Michigan 
INSEAD
University College London (UCL)
London School of Economics (LSE)
King’s College London (KCL)
University of London
University of Manchester
University of Zurich
University of York
Brandeis University
University of Exeter
University of Sheffield
Boston University
University of Washington
University of Leeds
University of Law
Royal Holloway, University of London 
Birkbeck, University of London
SOAS, University of London
University of Kent
University of Hull
Queen’s University Belfast
Toronto Metropolitan University
Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
University of Buckingham

  • Criminal Practice

    Diagrams and Charts

    Our carefully designed diagrams and charts will guide you through complex legal issues.

  • Criminal Law

    Clear and Succinct Definitions

    Key concepts are concisely defined to help you understand legal topics quickly.

  • Property Law

    Statutory Provisions

    Statutory provisions are provided side by side with legal concepts to help you swiftly locate the relevant legislation.

  • Public Law

    Case Summaries

    We have summarised important cases for you so that you don't need to read long and boring cases.

  • Evidence

    Rules and Exceptions

    Rules and exceptions are clearly listed so that you know when a rule applies and when it doesn't.

  • Company Law

    Terminology

    Legal terms and key concepts are explained at the beginning of each chapter to help you learn efficiently.

  • Case Law

    Case law is provided side by side with legal concepts so that you know how legal principles and precedents were established.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Law Essay Guide

    You will learn essential law exam skills and essay writing techniques that are not taught in class.

  • Law Exam Guide

    Problem Question Guide

    We will show you how to answer problem questions step by step to achieve first-class results.

  • Conflict of Laws

    Structured Explanations

    Complex legal concepts are broken down into concise and digestible bullet point explanations.

  • Legal System and Method

    Legal Research

    You will learn legal research techniques with our study guide and become a proficient legal researcher.

  • Jurisprudence and Legal Theory

    Exam-focused

    All essential concepts, principles, and case law are included so that you can answer exam questions quickly.