State and federal investigators make mistakes more often than people realize. And the results are dangerous for those who have been accused of criminal wrongdoing. In fact, illegally gathered evidence puts people behind bars all the time, stripping them from their families, friends, and careers, while devastating any semblance of the future they once envisioned.
What is a motion to suppress?
As scary as that may sound, the good news is that you can prevent this tainted evidence from being used against you if you know how to make the right legal objections. This often takes the form of a motion to suppress. Here, you ask the court to look at certain evidence that the prosecution intends to use against you and deem it inadmissible. This motion is sometimes referred to as a motion in limine.
When can a motion to suppress be filed?
The basis of a motion to suppress is that the evidence in question was gathered in violation of your Constitutional rights, such as those specified in your Fourth Amendment protections against unlawful searches and seizures. So, what circumstances can lead to the suppression of evidence? Let’s look at some of them.
- Illegally obtained confessions: When you’re subjected to custodial interrogation, you must be read your Miranda rights, which include your right to remain silent and your right to have an attorney. Far too often, though, police officers and investigators try to sidestep the reading of these rights so that they can keep lawyers out of the mix. These law enforcement officials often act friendly as a way to make the accused individual feel comfortable and less threatened, and therefore more talkative. But, if you’re being held in a way where you’re not free to leave, and the police are questioning you, then their tone doesn’t really matter. You’re being subjected to custodial interrogation and should be read your rights. If you invoke your right to remain silent or request an attorney, then questioning should stop.
- Illegally seized evidence: Generally speaking, law enforcement officials should have a warrant before they search your home, car, office, or person. This warrant should be supported by probable cause. Sometimes, though, police officers utilize exceptions to the warrant requirement. This includes searches that occur incident to arrest, searches conducted with the individual’s consent, and the search of automobiles in some instances. Specific requirements must be met in order for these exceptions to apply, though, so make sure that you’re assessing them to determine if the police violated the law. If so, then the gathered evidence may be deemed inadmissible at court.
- Lack of witness cooperation: To best protect yourself going into trial, you have to know what the prosecution’s witnesses intend to say at trial. The best way to find this out is to depose those witnesses. However, if you subpoena those witnesses and they fail to appear for their deposition, then you may be able to successfully request that a judge block those witnesses from testifying against you. After all, that’s only fair.
Exploit every defense tactic available to you
A motion to suppress can be a key part of your case, but it’s just one strategy that you can deploy to try to defend yourself against the charges that have been levied against you. If you want to maximize your chances of obtaining the best outcome possible under the circumstances, then you’ll want to take a holistic and comprehensive approach to your criminal defense. To learn more about how to go about doing that, you may want to reach out to an experienced and skilled criminal defense firm.