What is a motion to suppress and how it can it result in a criminal case being dropped?
There are many motions that a criminal defense attorney can file on behalf of a client. One of the most popular and most powerful is a motion to suppress. While every person familiar with the criminal justice system wants their evidence suppressed, motions to suppress cannot be filed without the proper grounds.
When can a motion to suppress be filed? The most common reason for a motion to suppress is that there is some evidence that was obtained by law enforcement illegally or in violation of one's rights. It is well established constitutional law that all persons shall be free of warrantless searches and seizures. This Fourth Amendment right is often the grounds cited for a motion to suppress. This means that a cop searched a person or something that belongs to him (house, vehicle, etc.) without a warrant, consent, or some recognized legal exception to getting a warrant.
There are other grounds for a motion to suppress besides violations of the Fourth Amendment. One popular one is a motion to suppress to suppress statements made in violation of the Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. This often occurs when an individual is actually or effectively under arrest and police question the individual without first reading him Miranda.
Miranda warnings is a court established set of rules that law enforcement must read to an individual before questioning. Most are familiar with Miranda warnings – "you have the right to remain silent, anything you say can and will be held against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney…". If Miranda applies, and the warnings were not read, any statements made in violation of not reading them may result in their suppression.
Other grounds can arise for a motion to suppress such as involuntary statements, evidence seized in violation of other laws, and evidence seized in violation of rules and ordinances.
What happens if you win a motion to suppress? It is the State's burden to prove that any evidence or statements were obtained lawfully. If they are unable to prove this to a judge, the judge will likely grant the motion to suppress. If the judge grants the motion, then any evidence that was illegally obtained cannot be used by the State at trial or in motions. This can have the effect of rendering the State unable to prove the charge beyond a reasonable doubt and therefore dropping the charges or losing at trial.
If you feel that your rights have been violated or you were unlawfully searched, don't hesitate to call Soler & Simon at (941) 444-5128 to discuss any and all issues in your case.
Our lawyers have extensive experience researching, writing, and arguing motions to suppress. Please visit our homepage for more information on how our attorneys can help you fight your criminal charges.