In the United States, strict rules govern what evidence can be used in a trial. These restrictions apply equally to prosecutors and to the defense, and much of their time is spent fighting over what constitutes inadmissible evidence or admissible evidence. The judge decides what evidence may be admitted. Suffice it to say, criminal cases are often won and lost based on these evidentiary issues. So it’s essential that you have a criminal defense lawyer who is knowledgeable about the law of evidence, and will be able to use these rules in your favor.
At Spolin Law P.C., one of the most successful defense strategies we employ is the suppression of the prosecutor’s evidence. After essential evidence has been removed from the case, the prosecutor may not be in a position to prove your guilt. In some cases, the judge will even agree to dismiss the charges before your trial even starts. If you’ve been charged with a crime, you should retain a lawyer as soon as possible.
A Prosecutor Cannot Use Evidence That Was Obtained in Violation of Your Rights
In a criminal proceeding, the admission of evidence is governed by the rules of evidence, just like in a civil trial. For example, hearsay, or out-of-court statements used to prove the truth of the matter asserted, is not admissible unless it meets one of the limited exceptions to this rule. But in a criminal proceeding, the most important rules on the admission of evidence come from the United States Constitution. A criminal defense attorney can ask the judge to suppress any evidence that was obtained in violation of your constitutional rights.
Your lawyer can make a motion to suppress the evidence in the following scenarios:
You were subjected to an unreasonable search.
The police need your consent or a warrant if they want to enter your home and search for evidence. The warrant requirement has exceptions under limited emergency circumstances, such as when the police believe someone is in danger inside your home, they have reason to believe evidence is being destroyed, or they are in hot pursuit of a suspect. If the police searched your home without your consent, a warrant, or an emergency justifying their warrantless entry, your lawyer could likely suppress any evidence they obtained during the search.
The police violated the plain sight rule.
When the police have a warrant for your arrest, they may enter your home by force and apprehend you. But this warrant does not necessarily allow them to search for evidence. When the warrant only authorizes an arrest, the police can only seize evidence that is in plain sight. They cannot open your closet or drawers to look for drugs or weapons, for example. But if drugs or weapons are clearly visible, this evidence may be seized and used against you.
The police pulled you over for no reason.
When you’re driving a car, the police cannot pull you over just because they have a hunch that you might be doing something illegal. They actually have to see you breaking the law. Or you, your car, or your license plate must match the description of someone they have reason to believe has broken the law. Under cross-examination, police officers are often unable to convincingly articulate the facts that gave them a good reason for pulling you over. In this case, the judge may order the suppression of all evidence obtained as a result of this unlawful traffic stop.
The police lacked probable cause to arrest you.
In order to lawfully arrest you, the police need to have probable cause to believe that you are guilty of a crime. Sometimes, the arresting officer is unable to convincingly or coherently explain to the court why they decided to arrest you. Or your lawyer can show that the officer’s reasons did not meet the normal threshold of probable cause. In this case, the judge may order the suppression of any evidence obtained as a result of your arrest.
Your confession was coerced.
When the police arrest you, or place you in a position in which a reasonable person would assume they are under arrest, they must inform you of your right to remain silent and your right to a lawyer. United States law prohibits the police from obtaining coerced confessions and statements from criminal suspects, and the Supreme Court has ruled that any confession you make without being aware of your rights is by nature coercive. So if the police question you without informing you of your rights, or threaten physical violence against you in order to obtain your confession, this evidence may be suppressed.
Contact Spolin Law, P.C. for Help Today
The sooner your criminal defense lawyer begins working on your case, the better. It’s important for you to have an experienced attorney by your side to object to the prosecution’s evidence early in the case, because if the motion to suppress is successful, you may be able to have the charges dismissed without going through the expense and hassle of a trial. And even if the court rules against you on the motion to suppress, the issue will be preserved for a possible appeal later on.