What happens to illegal things obtained through an illegal search?

If we need a hypothetical, let’s go with this scenario. As I understand it, evidence obtained through an illegal search and seizure is inadmissable in court.

I might be oversimplifying the law, and if so, forgive me – but please, correct me.

Say a cop pulls you over and, for whatever reason, performs a search of your car later deemed to be illegal. He finds some pot. In court, this comes out, so your drug charge is dropped, the prosecutor having no other evidence except the pot in the car. You’re free to go-- but what happens to the pot that the police illegally searched and seized? I’m pretty positive they aren’t going to hand the pot back over to you, with an apology for illegally taking it.

What about a body found in your basement after a search? The body being the only evidence of your capital murder charge, I guess it’s out of the trial, and you’re cut loose. I’m about 99% sure you don’t get the body back.

Maybe my marathon SVU watching has warped my brain about stuff like this, but a key portion of the prosecution often hinges on getting evidence admitted after a questionable search. So, I guess this is really a two-fold question for legal dopers–

1- Does this ever come up? The only evidence being that which is inadmissable, and the suspect goes free? Even if it’s a corpse?

2- What happens to the stuff?

I’m sure someone can help me draw the line between the SVUniverse and reality. :slight_smile:

Contraband is contraband. If the police violate somebody’s rights and do an illegal search on their car, finding 10 kilos of coke, it is an illegal search, and the coke probably won’t be admissible in court. But the guy isn’t going to get the coke back.

9 kilos goes to be destroyed and the arresting officers and property clerk buy new boats… The Lo or Capitan adds to his off shore account. :wink:

They may offer the property back, at which point the person needs to say it ain’t mine man. Illegal stuff is destroyed.

That’s the question, isn’t it?

How, exactly, do you intend to GET your coke back?

You can’t just walk into the evidence room and say, “Yo, gimme my contraband.”

Well, I suppose you COULD- and I’d sure love to be there to see it.
Personally, I love reading news stories where the “victim” calls the cops and reports that his drugs have been stolen. :smiley:

Yeah, I don’t think you’ve thought this cunning plan all the way through:

“Yo, I want my 10 kilos of coke back”

“Here you go.”

“Cool man!”

“Freeze! You’re under arrest for possession of cocaine”


The same thing happens to it if the case gets thrown out, the defendant is found guilty, or if it was contraband that was turned in as found property. It is destroyed. In the case of drugs it is burned in a medical waste incinerator. Weapons are ground up and destroyed.

The body thing hasn’t come up yet, but you’re not getting it back.

According to one of Cecil’s columns, corpses aren’t usually considered property. They’re still people, albeit dead people. Even if you didn’t get charged with any crime, they’d probably send the body to a funeral home. If you were the next of kin, they’d make you either bury or cremate the body.

Even legal things that are stolen or the result of illegal funds are sometimes kept.

And then sold on steal it back dot com.