Motion to Suppress Evidence
Motion to Suppress Evidence – What Is It & What Will It Mean to Your Criminal Case?
Many clients come to Chambers Law Office accused of a criminal offense and want to know if we can file a motion to suppress evidence. In some cases, that may be the best course of action, and in other cases, it won’t play a role at all. This post will explain what a motion to suppress evidence means and when it may be useful.
Motion to Suppress Evidence – What Is It?
Whenever the state accuses someone of a crime, they must have evidence to support that charge and prove that person’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. In order to obtain evidence, the police often conduct searches, with or without a warrant, or obtain evidence through some other manner, such as consent to search, a search incident to arrest or in some other manner during the course of an investigation.
During the pre-trial stage, a defense lawyer will look at how each piece of evidence was obtained and look for errors in how that was done. If it appears that a piece of evidence was obtained illegally, either because a law was broken or the client’s constitutional rights were violated, a motion to suppress evidence may be filed, requesting that the court suppress the evidence. If granted, that evidence cannot be used in trial.
Should a Motion to Suppress Evidence be Filed?
Whether or not to file a motion to suppress evidence will be decided by the attorney, in consultation with the client. If the attorney believes that something was done in violation of the client’s rights, then a motion to suppress evidence may be appropriate. However, not every case will have evidentiary issues, so if you have questions about whether a motion should be filed in your case, the first step should be to talk to an attorney. The laws surrounding police searches and seizures are constantly evolving and an experienced attorney can explain your rights and the laws surrounding the evidence in your case. These types of issues often arise in drug cases, where drugs are found on a person or in a house or car, or where a person is searched after a traffic stop or arrest and contraband or suspected evidence of a crime is found.
The Hearing on a Motion to Suppress Evidence
Once a motion to suppress evidence has been filed, the court will set the matter for a hearing. Depending on what the facts of the case are, the burden to go forward will either be on the state or shift to the defendant.
If there was a warrant in the case and the defendant is alleging that the warrant was defective, the burden is on the defendant to show that it was an invalid warrant or was executed improperly.
If there was not a warrant and the search was performed based on an arrest or probable cause or some other reason, such as consent to search, the burden is on the state to show that the search was legal and constitutional.
During a hearing, if it is the state’s burden, the state will go first and present evidence, such as police officer testimony. The defendant will have the opportunity to question the witnesses and present evidence. The defendant may testify, as well, but that testimony is for the purposes of that hearing only and doesn’t waive his or her right against self-incrimination during the trial phase.
When the hearing is over, the court will make a ruling as to whether the evidence should be suppressed. If the motion is granted, the evidence will be ordered suppressed and will not be allowed to be used by the state at trial. If the motion is denied, then the state will be allowed to use the evidence.
My Motion to Suppress was Granted. Will my Charges be Dismissed?
If a motion to suppress evidence is granted, the charges are not automatically dismissed. The state will have to reevaluate their case to determine if they can move forward without the evidence that was suppressed. Sometimes they cannot, and the charges will be dismissed. In other cases, they may still decide to move forward with some or all of the charges, even without the suppressed evidence.
Indianapolis Criminal Defense Attorney
At Chambers Law Office, we represent clients accused of criminal offenses in Marion County, Hamilton, Hancock, Boone, Shelby and Johnson Counties and throughout central Indiana. Julie Chambers is a former Marion County deputy prosecutor and has experience handling misdemeanor and felony cases. If you have been accused of a crime or have questions about a motion to suppress evidence, contact Chambers Law Office today to speak with a lawyer at 317-450-2971.