What Is a Motion to Suppress Evidence?
If you are charged with a crime in Collin County, such as drug possession, you have a constitutional right to confront the witnesses and evidence against you. In some circumstances, you can even request the court exclude certain evidence if it was obtained by the prosecution in an illegal manner. Such a request is commonly known as a “motion to suppress.”
Protecting a Defendant’s Constitutional Rights
The motion to suppress is rooted in the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which protects all individuals from “unreasonable search and seizures.” This means that the law requires the police to have reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred to seize you and search your person. The law also requires that the police have probable cause to believe that evidence of crime will be found before they search your car. Further, the law requires that the police obtain a search warrant based on probable cause before they may search your home. There are some exceptions to the Fourth Amendment requirement of probable cause such as consent, exigent circumstances, etc.
When an officer conducts a search in violation of the Fourth Amendment, the defendant may file a motion to suppress any evidence arising from the search. For example, let’s say a police officer stops a person for speeding and then proceeds to search the car without the driver’s permission or warrant. The officer finds illegal drugs in the car’s trunk and arrests the driver for drug possession. In court, the driver files a motion to suppress the drugs as a Fourth Amendment violation. The judge grants the motion and the prosecution will likely have to dismiss the case as no other evidence the defendant committed a crime.
Deterring Police Misconduct Enforcing the Fourth Amendment
The above example is a relatively simple illustration of how a motion to suppress works. In fact, not every unconstitutional search is suppressed, and not all suppressions lead to a dismissal of charges. The U.S. Supreme Court, which created the “exclusionary rule” that governs motions to suppress, has said the purpose of the rule is to deter police misconduct, not necessarily help defendants avoid conviction.
The courts have also recognized a number of exceptions to the exclusionary rule. If a police officer has a “good faith” belief that a search is constitutional–i.e., she obtains a warrant that turns out to be defective–a judge may deny a motion to suppress. Similarly, if the prosecutor can prove that evidence obtained through an unconstitutional search would have been “inevitably discovered” through other, lawful means, the judge may still admit the challenged evidence.
Indeed, motions to suppress are one of the more complicated facets of criminal law. An experienced Collin County criminal defense attorney knows how to handle a motion to suppress and other matters related to the protection of constitutional rights. If you have been charged with a serious crime, and are facing potential jail time, you want that experience on your side. Contact the offices of Rosenthal Barbieri, if you need to speak with a qualified Collin County DWI lawyer right away.