Understanding the Importance of a Motion to Suppress Evidence

Basic research utensils with a evidence bag in Laboratorio forensic equipment, conceptual image for blog: Understanding the Importance of a Motion to Suppress Evidence

If you have been charged with a crime, you should evaluate all possible defenses and aggressively fight the charges. Your defense strategy should include a careful analysis of the evidence and whether any of it can be excluded from consideration at trial.

In many criminal cases, the issue is less about your guilt or innocence and more about whether the police followed the proper protocols and procedures in conducting their investigation and placing you under arrest. If the police made mistakes or violated your rights, or the evidence is unreliable, you might be able to have it excluded from consideration at trial, which can lead to a favorable result or dismissal of your case. A criminal defense lawyer can challenge the evidence the prosecutor intends to present by filing a Motion to Suppress Evidence.

What Is a Motion to Suppress Evidence?

A motion to suppress evidence asks the judge not to consider certain evidence the prosecutor seeks to use against you. Defendants often file motions to suppress evidence well in advance of trial. If the defendant wins and the judge excludes some of the prosecution’s evidence, the prosecutor might have to dismiss the case. Alternatively, your criminal defense lawyer can use the excluded evidence as leverage to negotiate a favorable plea bargain.

Legal Basis for Filing a Motion to Suppress Evidence

To be considered at trial, evidence must be both “relevant” and “competent.” It must be directly related to the charges in your case and must have been appropriately handled according to the law. If evidence is not relevant, is unreliable, or was illegally obtained, a defendant can seek to have it excluded from consideration at trial.

The Exclusionary Rule

The exclusionary rule prevents the government from using evidence that was illegally obtained. The exclusionary rule frequently applies when police violate a defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure.

Fruit of the Poisonous Tree

Under the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine, evidence that would otherwise be admissible cannot be used at trial if it resulted from an illegal search or seizure or some other constitutional violation.

Common Grounds for Filing a Motion to Suppress Evidence

An experienced criminal defense attorney can evaluate the circumstances of your case to identify situations where your constitutional rights may have been violated. Your lawyer can file a motion to suppress evidence seeking to have that evidence excluded from consideration.

Motion to Suppress Evidence: Illegal Search and Seizure

Illegal search and seizure is one of the most common reasons for filing a motion to suppress evidence. The Fourth Amendment protects against unlawful search and seizure. To lawfully perform a search, seize your property, or place you under arrest, police must have a valid search warrant or arrest warrant, or probable cause to believe you committed a crime.

Failure to Give Miranda Warnings

Police officers are required to advise a suspect of their Miranda rights before a custodial interrogation. Miranda warnings inform a suspect they have the right to remain silent, that anything they say can be used against them in court, and that they have the right to an attorney. If the police fail to read a suspect their Miranda rights, some statements the defendant made cannot be considered at trial.

Errors in the Chain of Custody

The chain of custody refers to the documentation and care of evidence. To prove chain of custody, the prosecutor must establish: (1) that the evidence is what the prosecutor claims it is; (2) continuous possession of the evidence from the time it was seized until it is presented in court; and (3) the evidence remained in substantial the same condition each time it was transferred. If the chain is broken, the evidence could lack credibility and might not be admissible.

Case-Specific Reasons to File a Motion to Suppress Evidence

Reasons to file a motion to suppress evidence can differ depending on the specific nature of the charges you face and may include:

  • Field Sobriety Tests were not administered according to standards required by the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA);
  • Breathalyzer testing equipment was inaccurate; or
  • Expert testimony raises issues about the reliability of certain pieces of evidence.

How to File a Motion to Suppress Evidence

If you were charged with a crime, the outcome of your case could well depend on the strength of a motion to suppress evidence. If your lawyer succeeds in having certain evidence excluded, the prosecution might be forced to dismiss the case or agree to a significant reduction in charges.

A motion to suppress evidence will often raise complex constitutional issues. You want an attorney on your side who has experience researching, drafting, and arguing these motions and understands what a judge will look for when deciding whether to grant a motion to suppress evidence.

Contact Elmen Legal for Aggressive Criminal Defense in Ann Arbor, Michigan

If you were charged with a crime, you need an experienced, tenacious, and aggressive criminal defense lawyer on your side. Elmen Legal will independently investigate, thoroughly analyze, and critically evaluate the charges against you and develop an aggressive defense strategy designed to have the charges reduced or the case against you dismissed.

Elmen Legal proudly defends people accused of crimes in Ann Arbor and throughout Michigan. To learn more, read reviews from other clients, then contact Elmen Legal today to schedule a confidential consultation to discuss your situation.