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  1. #1
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    Default Can a Person Who Broke the Law Invoke the Law to Protect Them

    My question involves criminal law for the state of: Idaho (I believe this is Federal law & not State)

    What is the technical legal concept or name where a person that breaks and shows disdain for the law can not expect the law to protect them. For example, a bank robber hit by a motorist that ran a red light can not sue the motorist?

    I can't remember... it's been about 25yrs since I ran into this law... but it may even be an extension of the "Fruit of The Poison Tree" legal doctrine, Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States, 251 U.S. 385 (1920) an illegal act usually makes evidence inadmissible.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Law Breakers Not Protected by Law

    There is no such concept I am aware of. Criminals sue people if not regularly often for things that occur during the course of their crime.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Law Breakers Not Protected by Law

    I assure you it exists, one example where it is often used is when a law officer is parked illegally (no parking zone) and writes someone a speeding ticket - a good lawyer will get the ticket thrown out. But this example falls closer to the "Fruit of The poison Tree" doctrine.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Law Breakers Not Protected by Law

    Quote Quoting jwzumwalt
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    What is the technical legal concept or name where a person that breaks and shows disdain for the law can not expect the law to protect them. For example, a bank robber hit by a motorist that ran a red light can not sue the motorist?
    In a civil case it would be unclean hands.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Law Breakers Not Protected by Law

    Quote Quoting jwzumwalt
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    I assure you it exists, one example where it is often used is when a law officer is parked illegally (no parking zone) and writes someone a speeding ticket - a good lawyer will get the ticket thrown out. But this example falls closer to the "Fruit of The poison Tree" doctrine.
    A good lawyer is not going to get that thrown out just because the officer is parked in a no parking zone. Law enforcement is often exempt from many traffic laws while performing their official duties.

    And no, that would not even be close to fruit of the poison tree.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Law Breakers Not Protected by Law

    There are a couple of legal principles. The basic rule your mommy taught you:

    Two wrongs don't make a right.


    and a corollary

    Just because someone else is wrong, doesn't mean you are right.


    The clean hands doctrine doesn't even apply to criminal prosecutions. It's not the cop v. you, it's the state v. you. You have to show that the government has pretty dirty hands before that's going to make a difference. Just because a cop incidentally broke another law doesn't make his apprehension of you invalid. The "fruit of the poison tree" applies only when the officer violates something like a persons constitutional rights. For example, violating the fourth amendment protections not only makes hte results of those violation (search, for example) inadmissible but "poisons" all the fruits that come of it (for example if the search led to information that furthered the investigation elsewhere).

    Clean hands in civil cases deny damages that would be unequitable because the claimant acted unethically to the point that it would make the relief inequitable. It doesn't mean the respondant gets a free pass just because the claimant did something illegal.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Law Breakers Not Protected by Law

    Quote Quoting budwad
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    In a civil case it would be unclean hands.
    In tort, the normal rule is that for unclean hands to prevent an action the tort has to relate to the underlying wrongful act. So unclean hands would not stop a lawsuit against a negligent driver in a different vehicle, but it could stop a bank robber from suing the getaway driver for causing an accident when they flee the scene.

    The idea that you can get a traffic ticket tossed out if you show that the officer saw your violation while parked illegally is neither "unclean hands" or "fruit of the poisonous tree". There's no jurisdiction in which that argument would work -- the officer is not a party to the case, and the location of the officer's vehicle has no bearing on whether or not the offense occurred.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Law Breakers Not Protected by Law

    Quote Quoting jwzumwalt
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    I assure you it exists,
    Why are you asking?

    Did something happen to you where you think this elusive concept might help in your defense?

    If so, explain what happened and ask a specific question about it.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Law Breakers Not Protected by Law

    Quote Quoting adjusterjack
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    Why are you asking?
    .
    its a question in the textbook.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Law Breakers Not Protected by Law

    Quote Quoting jwzumwalt
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    I assure you it exists, one example where it is often used is when a law officer is parked illegally (no parking zone) and writes someone a speeding ticket - a good lawyer will get the ticket thrown out. But this example falls closer to the "Fruit of The poison Tree" doctrine.
    Actually, no. No good judge would buy that argument. The fact that officer was illegally parked does not in any way justify the driver in speeding. The two things are unrelated. The motorist can urge that the office be cited for the officer’s parking violation, but it is no excuse for the driver’s violation of the law.

    There are a few doctrines in the common law that come from the old courts of equity the come from the principle that a court will not aid a wrongdoer in his own wrongful conduct or help him benefit from it. The names for these doctrines vary depending on the type of situation, but they all have in common one feature: there is a connection between the person’s wrongful act and the benefit the person is seeking from the court.

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