If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense and there are doubts surrounding an important piece of evidence, it may be possible to get it excluded from the trial. A motion to suppress evidence is a request by a defendant that the judge omits certain evidence from the courtroom.
The main issue is the admissibility of evidence obtained by law enforcement, rather than whether you are guilty or innocent. Evidence used in a criminal case needs to be directly related to the charges and lawfully gathered/handled. A criminal defense lawyer should understand how to suppress evidence if the defendant’s constitutional rights have been violated.
The following are common reasons a court may suppress evidence:
- Unlawful search and seizure – The exclusionary rule prevents the state from using illegally-collected evidence. It often occurs when evidence is gathered in violation of the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure. From routine traffic stops to home visits, law enforcement must have a valid search warrant, arrest warrant, or probable cause that a crime has been committed to obtain evidence.
- Police did not read your Miranda rights – Police are required to read a suspect’s “Miranda rights” when placed in custody before questioning and interrogation. These rights inform suspects they have the right to remain silent, that anything they say can and will be used against them in court, and that they have the right to an attorney. If law enforcement fails to read a suspect’s rights, anything said made after arrest cannot be used at trial.
- Errors in the chain of custody – From evidence seizure by police to its presentation in the courtroom, the documentation and proper care throughout the legal process are considered as the chain of custody. If the chain of custody is tampered with (i.e. evidence is mislabeled, mixed up, or lost), the evidence could be deemed inadmissible due to its lack of credibility.
Since a motion to suppress is done before the trial, the prosecution might not have a proper basis to pursue trial if the defense wins. If the key evidence is excluded from court, then the state has a weaker case. It is not uncommon for the government to dismiss charges after losing such a motion.
If you have been charged with a crime, the consequences of your trial are going to rely on the evidence admitted in court. You need a skilled lawyer on your side to analyze the evidence gathered by police and determine if a motion to suppress will benefit your case.
For more information, contact Law Offices of Keith J. Nedwick, P.C. and request a free meeting with our Norman criminal defense lawyer today.