When building a case against a criminal suspect, law enforcement officials will gather various pieces of evidence. Although rules, laws, and procedures exist to facilitate the fair collection of materials, authorities do not always follow them. In drug crime cases, officers might conduct unlawful searches and seizures, fail to Mirandize the defendant, or ignore the defendant’s request to have a criminal defense attorney present. If any of these situations occurred, the defendant could file a motion to suppress, asking the court to throw out material law enforcement officials obtained illegally or through a violation of the defendant’s rights. The prosecutor will not be able to use certain pieces of evidence if the judge grants the defendant’s request, which could lead to a more favorable outcome for the defendant.
At Hager & Schwartz, P.A., our Daytona Beach team explores every legal avenue to seek just results for our clients. To schedule a consultation with us, please call (386) 693-1637 or submit an online contact form today.
What Does Evidence Suppression Mean?
Essentially, when evidence is suppressed, it means that the prosecutor is prevented from using it at trial. Thus, they will not be able to show it to the jury in an attempt to convince them of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Suppressing evidence is a remedy for defendants wronged by authorities. It also sends a message to officials that misconduct will not be tolerated, preventing legal or procedural violations.
When Can Evidence Be Suppressed?
Various situations exist where material may be suppressed or excluded at trial. Generally, this happens when investigators have violated the defendant’s constitutional rights.
Common reasons evidence may be inadmissible include the following:
- Unreasonable search and seizure: The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides that people should be secure in their homes, belongings, and persons. If law enforcement officials went into someone’s house without a warrant or the owner’s consent and started looking around for drugs, they have violated this right. Likewise, if a police officer arrests someone because they have a hunch, but no probable cause, that the individual has a controlled substance on them, they have subjected the person to an unreasonable seizure.
- Failure to Mirandize: When police officers have arrested someone and are about to interrogate the individual, they must read the person their rights, referred to as giving the Miranda warning. The warning advises defendants that they have the right to remain silent – a protection under the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, preventing individuals from giving self-incriminating statements. Failing to provide the warning is a violation of a person’s rights.
- Ineffective assistance of counsel: Under the Sixth Amendment, individuals have the right to receive competent legal representation, ensuring fairness in the justice process. Police officers must inform defendants of this right as part of the Miranda warning. Again, not Mirandizing a defendant is a Constitutional violation.
How Does Evidence Get Thrown Out?
A criminal defendant must ask the court to deem certain pieces of material inadmissible. The request is made by filing a motion to suppress, which generally must occur before the trial starts.
In their motion, the defendant must state what they are asking to have excluded and why. As noted before, the basis for suppression of evidence typically centers on a state or federal Constitutional violation. It may also be grounded on some other statutory violation.
How Can Suppression of Evidence Affect a Case?
When a prosecutor attempts to prove a defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, they must present evidence to support their arguments. The strength of the materials they introduce in court can influence the judge's or jury's minds.
If evidence is suppressed, the prosecutor may be denied introducing some pieces of evidence. Depending on the object, the prosecutor may have trouble backing some of their claims against the defendant. Their inability to deliver a strong case can result in a dismissal.
However, not all cases may resolve this way. Even though the judge might allow some evidence to be thrown out, the prosecutor may rely on other materials to make their arguments. They may move forward with the matter, seeking to obtain a conviction.
Call a Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Case
At Hager & Schwartz, P.A., we deliver sound legal counsel to protect our clients’ rights and address any miscarriages of justice. Our team examines the details to identify Constitutional violations and determine a path for remedy.
Speak with one of our Daytona Beach lawyers by contacting us at (386) 693-1637 today.