What you need to know about evidence suppression

What you need to know about evidence suppression

On Behalf of | May 20, 2024 | Criminal Defense

To put it lightly, being hit with criminal charges can be stressful. You might find yourself worrying about what a conviction could mean for your freedom and your future, which may drive you to seek quick resolution that spares you from the harshest penalties available under the law.

That could be a mistake. You should thoroughly vet your criminal defense options before talking to prosecutors about a plea deal. After all, there may be strategies that you can utilize that will either give you the upper hand in plea negotiations or put you in a position to obtain dismissed charges or an acquittal. One of them is seeking evidence suppression.

What does it mean to suppress evidence?

Suppressing evidence means that you block the prosecution from introducing certain evidence against you at trial. This can cut the legs out from under the prosecution’s case, significantly increasing your chances of winning your case.

Although evidence suppression can be powerful in your case, it isn’t automatic. Rather, you’ll have to aggressively pursue suppression by filing a motion with the court that specifies why the evidence in question should be suppressed. Then, the court will hold a hearing on the matter where you and prosecutors get to argue your points.

What circumstances warrant evidence suppression?

There are several that you should be aware of, as any one of them may be implicated in your case. These include:

  • Defective warrant: The police typically need a warrant before they can search your home, business, or car. To secure that warrant, they need to meet a threshold standard with a judge to convince them that there’s a good chance that they’ll find incriminating evidence. If that warrant is based on false or misleading information, though, or the warrant lacks specificity in what can be searched, then you might be able to argue that your rights were violated by the defective warrant and that the evidence that was subsequently seized is tainted with illegality.
  • Misuse of a warrant exception: There are several exceptions to the general warrant requirement. But the police misuse them all the time. When they do, they’ve violated your Constitutional rights, and you’ll be in a strong position to suppress any evidence that was seized.
  • An illegal traffic stop: Similarly, if the police stop you without the requisite reasonable suspicion or probable cause necessary to initiate an illegal stop, then anything that happens afterward, including a search of your vehicle and the seizure of incriminating evidence, is deemed illegal. By relying on the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine, then, you’ll likely be able to suppress this evidence.
  • Improper collection and storage of evidence: Evidence can be compromised when it’s mishandled. Therefore, if the police don’t follow proper protocols when gathering, storing, and testing evidence, then you’ll be able to argue that’s its reliability has been drawn into question. In some instances where the reliability of the evidence is devastated, the court will disallow it from being presented against you. In other instances, though, the court may allow it to be entered into evidence but will allow any errors to be used to attack the weight that should be given to that evidence.

Can you block the prosecution’s evidence in your case?

It’s going to depend on the unique facts of your case. But one thing is certain: you shouldn’t go into your case without a full understanding of your defense options. If you walk blindly into your case, then you’re setting yourself up for a poor outcome. Take the time needed to consider your criminal defense options and choose those strategies that best position you for success.