Case Example: Officer Wiley arrests Hy Lowe for selling phony telephone cards. A judge ruled that Officer Wiley had illegally entered Lowe's home and improperly seized a map showing the location where Lowe hid the phone cards. At trial, the prosecutor doesn't try to offer the map into evidence. The prosecutor does, however, seek to offer into evidence the phone cards that Officer Wiley located by using the map.

Question: Are the phone cards admissible in evidence?

Answer: No. Officer Wiley obtained the map through an illegal search. The phone cards are the fruit of that unlawful search, and therefore inadmissible in evidence.

  9. Can I Plead Guilty But Reserve the Right to Challenge a Search and Have My Guilty Plea Set Aside If the Search Is Held to be Illegal?

  In most states, by pleading guilty, a defendant waives (gives up) any claim that evidence was illegally seized. This rule can be a dilemma for defendants who unsuccessfully challenge the legality of a search at the trial court level, for these reasons:

  · After a defendant's unsuccessful challenge to the admissibility of seized evidence, a guilty verdict may be an all but certain result at trial.

  · To save the time and expense of a useless trial, the defendant may decide to plead guilty.

  · By pleading guilty, however, the defendant loses the right to appeal the trial court's decision on the search and seizure issue.

  Some states do allow defendants to plead guilty and then challenge the seizure of evidence on appeal. Self-represented defendants who plan to challenge the legality of a police officer's search on appeal must never plead guilty without knowing whether their jurisdiction permits such a procedure.

  10. As a Self-Represented Defendant, What Are My Chances of Successfully Challenging a Search's Legality?

  Very small, except if the search is obviously illegal. The rules are not only complex, but also hard to find. The rules regulating the legitimacy of searches and seizures are not set out neatly in statutes or regulations. Rather, arguments that a search is illegal usually have to be pieced together from a number of previous appellate court decisions involving similar facts. Moreover, in many states a special body of rules governs the procedures for challenging the legality of a search. For example, a defendant may have to challenge a search in a special proceeding before trial or lose the right to do so. (See Chapter 19, Section II.) For these reasons, when the outcome of a case turns on the legality of a search, self-represented defendants should almost always obtain legal representation. (Self-represented defendants should at least have a "legal coach" available to spot possible search and seizure issues. More on legal coaches in Chapter 7.)