Evaluating the Fourth Amendment Exclusionary Rule: The Problem of Police Compliance with the Law

Part I of this article reviews background matters bearing on our research – in particular, we discuss the Court’s framework for analyzing exclusion as a deterrent safeguard, the research questions that need to be raised within that framework, and the research strategy we adopted in light of the Court’s approach to exclusion. Part II analyzes our findings on police knowledge of the rules of search and seizure. Part III analyzes our findings on officers’ willingness to obey the law. Part IV evaluates our findings in light of policy questions concerning the exclusionary rule. We consider whether the Court should retain the exclusionary rule or whether it should modify the rule by allowing for a “good faith” exception for officers’ mistakes in carrying out searches and seizures. We conclude that the exclusionary rule is the least undesirable remedy for nonegregious violations of the fourth amendment and that a general good faith exception to the rule should not be adopted.