What is a Motion to Suppress?

Posted By David L. Carlson, Attorney At Law || 1-Sep-2015

When defendants are charged with crimes, sometimes there is a doubt over a key piece of evidence. When this happens, sometimes the defense attorney can get the evidence thrown out at trial. The issue isn’t over the defendant’s guilt or innocence, rather it’s about the “admissibility” of the evidence in question.

As experienced Richmond criminal defense lawyers, we know how to suppress evidence that was collected illegally, in violation of a defendant’s constitutional rights, or evidence that is otherwise inadmissible.

However, in order to have evidence thrown out, no matter how illegitimate it appears to be, we must first file a motion to suppress the evidence with the court. From there, it’s up to the judge to decide whether the evidence is admissible or not.

Excluding ‘Illegally Gathered’ Evidence

Under the “exclusionary rule” the government cannot use most evidence that was gathered illegally, which generally applies to evidence obtained in violation of a defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure.

Essentially, a law enforcement officer must obtain a valid search warrant and follow the proper protocol in order for a piece of evidence to be admissible in court.

Situations where a court may suppress evidence:

  • Unlawful searches and seizures: Under the Fourth Amendment, people are protected against unlawful searches and seizures, and this includes routine traffic stops and searches of their home. With a few exceptions, police are generally required to have a valid search warrant or probable cause that a crime has been committed before they can gather evidence.
  • Defendants weren’t read their Miranda Rights: Officers are required by law to read a defendant their Miranda Rights before questioning or interrogation. If the suspect has not been “read their rights,” then any statements made after the arrest may not be admissible in court.
  • Errors in chain of custody: Chain of custody refers to the proper documentation and care of evidence, beginning with the initial seizure by the police. If the chain of custody has been broken, the evidence could lose credibility and be deemed inadmissible in court.

As criminal defense lawyers, we can determine whether evidence in your case should be suppressed and if your constitutional rights have been violated. If you are facing criminal charges, be sure to contact Carlson & Collier. If evidence can be suppressed in your case, it could be a turning point in the criminal case against you.

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