A motion to suppress illegally seized evidence is one of the most important tools in a criminal defense attorney’s arsenal. In many cases, this tool can be used to “kick evidence out of court.” When used successfully a motion to suppress can result in having charges dismissed, having them reduced, or simply giving the defense a head start heading into trial. After a thorough review of your case, your attorney will be able to determine whether a motion to suppress is appropriate, and, if so, they will be able to begin preparing for a hearing on hour motion to suppress.
There are several types of evidence that can be suppressed. In general, in criminal cases, you typically see physical evidence (i.e. bullets, blood, drugs, etc.), testimony regarding statements made by the defendant (as a general rule statements made by the defendant are always admissible against him at trial), and sometimes witness identifications of the defendant. All of these may be suppressed.
The United States Constitution protects persons from unreasonable searches and seizures. When our constitutional rights are violated the courts have decided the appropriate remedy is to exclude the evidence from being used against us at trial.
As a general principle, searches must be conducted with a warrant unless a certain exception to the warrant requirement is present. There are quite a few exceptions to the warrant requirement. The one that I see most common and that drives me CRAZY is the consent exception. I always advise my client to ABSOLUTELY NEVER CONSENT TO LET THE GOVERNMENT SEARCH YOU, YOUR CAR, YOUR BELONGINGS OR ANYTHING ELSE.
I explain to my clients that law enforcement officers participate in extensive training, and if they are investigating you, then they don’t need your help in arresting you! There is absolutely no reason that a person, protected by the constitution, should make the government’s job easier. Your lawyer can do you a lot of good, but when our client’s give consent it provides a difficult challenge. Furthermore, if there are emergency (legally called ‘exigent’) circumstances then the government may conduct a search without a warrant. Additionally, if law enforcement is in a place they are legally permitted to be, and, in plain sight, they see suspected contraband they may search it.
Officers can also search with probable cause. Probable cause can be “formed” by officers in a variety of ways. It may be through their sensory functions. For instance, officers almost always smell marijuana – there are plenty of examples where officers recognize the “overwhelming smell of marijuana” but find no marijuana when they conduct a search. Probable cause can also be formed by things you tell the officer, “Officer I only had one beer” or “Officer I only have one roach in the car.” Folks, we have the right to remain silent, use it.
Generally, a person may not be seized by law enforcement unless they possess a warrant for that person’s arrest. A seizure occurs when a reasonable person would not feel free to leave. There are, however, quite a few exceptions where law enforcement may seize a person without an arrest warrant. For instance, if law enforcement possesses probable cause that a suspect has committed a felony, or if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that illegal activity is afoot.
Primarily here we see illegal traffic stops or traffic stops that are unlawfully prolonged. Police must have a reason to stop you, and once they stop you they must diligently pursue the “mission” of their stop. Their mission is to address the purported traffic violation that caused them to stop you in the first place.
So, if police stop you without a reason, or if they prolong the traffic stop beyond the time required to complete the traffic stop then any evidence that they seize may be able to be suppressed. You should always consult with a defense attorney to determine if there is evidence that may be subject to a motion to suppress.
There is a huge myth about Miranda. People think that anytime they talk to police that Miranda must be given. But, that is not true. In order for Miranda to be required, two things must be true. 1) The suspect must be in custody. 2) There must be police interrogation.
Whether or not someone is in custody is usually an incredible fact-specific determination. But, if you are in custody and police are asking you questions, then Miranda is required. If you are questioned without Miranda, then the evidence may be suppressed.
Again, consult with your defense attorney about whether any statements you may have given are able to be suppressed.
There are certain motions that must be filed within ten days of your arraignment date (this is why it is important to secure an attorney early in the process). A motion to suppress is one of these motions. Once the motion is filed the motion to suppress must be set down for a hearing. At the hearing the prosecutors will put on evidence attempting to show that the search or seizure was lawful, your attorney will put on evidence showing that it was illegal.
After the evidence, the judge will make a determination about whether or not to grant your motion to suppress. The Judge may grant your motion, meaning you win, deny your motion meaning you lose, or grant your motion in part and deny it in part. The judge will then file an order to that effect.
This month, attorneys for Artist, Young Thug, secured a great victory in their defense. The artist has been charged with multiple drug crimes following a traffic stop in DeKalb County, Georgia. The attorneys filed a motion to suppress and had the hearing on the motion.
After hearing evidence, the judge sided with the defense saying that without credible evidence that the window tint violated the appropriate statute and that such tint was placed on the vehicle after it was delivered by the manufacturer the stop was illegal and all evidence must be suppressed.
This is a great example of how fighting your charges can provide great results. It is imperative that we fight to defend our constitutional rights.
Criminal Cases are complicated! Don’t fight your charges alone. Consult with us and let us determine if a motion to suppress is appropriate in your case. Contact us today and schedule a consult with Ryan Brown.
J. Ryan Brown Law, LLC