We all know that various kinds of evidence is important to the outcome of a criminal trial. Whether you are talking about witness testimony, documents, or physical evidence, it all adds up to a verdict in the end. But what if there are legal issues with the way the evidence was obtained? That is when your attorney can ask the judge to exclude it, meaning the jury will never know about it.
A Motion to Suppress
Before a trial even begins, a criminal defense attorney can ask for particular evidence to be excluded. There are plenty of reasons that could justify such a request:
- If the evidence was obtained from an unlawful traffic stop or arrest;
- If someone’s Miranda rights were violated and that led to the police getting their hands on the evidence;
- If police conducted an illegal search or seizure;
- If an unreasonable search occurred without a search warrant;
- If a search warrant was issued, but was in some way defective (no probable cause);
- If evidence other than what was in the warrant was seized;
- If constitutional rights of a suspect were violated in order to get the evidence;
- If there was a problem with the chain of custody related to the evidence;
- If police ignored standard procedures while handling the evidence.
What Kinds of Evidence Could be Excluded?
All kinds of evidence may be subject for exclusion, including:
- Testimony from witnesses;
- Financial records;
- Written statements;
- Pictures and videos;
- Audio recordings;
- Blood, breathalyzer, or urine tests;
- Forensic evidence.
What is the Process?
A suppression motion, sometimes called a 1538.5 motion, is generally filed as part of a preliminary hearing or a pretrial hearing that is held specifically for this purpose, called a suppression hearing. The burden of proof is on the party bringing the motion, (the defense team) and they will need to demonstrate with a preponderance of evidence that there is a legal justification to exclude the evidence. If you have ever watched a crime-drama on television, you have probably heard of “fruit of the poisonous tree,” the idea that anything that is learned by the prosecution as a result of unlawful means should not be able to be used against a suspect. The prosecution will likely contend that they’d have discovered the evidence anyway or that they had other means to learn of it. It will be up to your skilled legal defense team to squash those kinds of claims in order to successfully get such evidence suppressed.
The Criminal Defense You Deserve
Every criminal defendant deserves to be treated fairly under the law. When evidence is obtained by the prosecution in an unlawful manner or when your constitutional rights are violated, it is up to your defense attorney to make things right. At Boertje & Associates, our experienced defense attorneys are familiar with the legal means to obtain evidence, as well as with the unlawful means that are used all too often by police. To discuss concerns about evidence in your case, schedule a confidential consultation in our San Diego office today.