A Look at Motions to Suppress
Motion to Suppress, What is it and When Should it be Used
One of the tools in war chest of every Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer is the Motion to Suppress. A Motion to Suppress is basically a motion an attorney can file asking the judge to order that certain evidence is removed from the case and not able to be used in the trial due to some sort of constitutional violation.
There are two primary reasons that an attorney may want to file a Motion to Suppress. The first reason may be strategic in nature. The attorney may want to see under oath what the State is going to present as evidence and filing a Motion to Suppress puts the burden on the State to present a significant part of their case. It also gives the State a bit of a dress rehearsal for a real trial, which may work to the opposite of what the defense wants. Second, if the defense attorney believe that there is good merit in the Motion to Suppress, these motions can turn the case completely in the favor of the defense if they prevail on it. Next, we will look at the most common types of Motions to Suppress that are filed.
Motion to Suppress an Illegally Obtained Confession:
This is the Miranda motion. This is the issue that you see most often in TV and the movies. When the suspect is arrested and the police read the rights to remain silent, right to an attorney and anything you say will be used against you. These are all called Miranda rights. If a suspect is in custody (meaning they are not free to leave) by the police and the police are going to ask questions that may incriminate the suspect then they must read the Miranda warnings prior to beginning the questioning. These warnings must be read to include the right to remain silent, the right to an attorney at any time and the right to terminate questioning at any time. The suspect must clearly understand these rights and must clearly waive them before any questioning can begin. Whether or not a defendant understands the rights can come up in a situation where they may not have English as their first language or may be so intoxicated that they couldn’t comprehend their rights to waive them. The next question is did they invoke their rights? Sometimes suspects ask lots of questions about remaining silent or having an attorney. What exactly was said and how it was said can make all the difference in the world on whether a court would suppress the evidence. If there is a question about the legality of the questioning of the suspect then a Motion to Suppress would be an appropriate tool to utilize to see if the court would throw the statement out.
Motion to Suppress an Illegal Search
One of the other major areas that lead to a Motion to Suppress is the search and seizure of property of a person for evidence. There are numerous issues to analyze in this arena. Did the officer have the right to do a pat down search or search the vehicle during a stop? Did the officer have the requisite probable cause to obtain the search warrant that led to the seizure of evidence? Was the search warrant properly executed and administered? Were the items searched within the scope of the search warrant? The list can go on and on as to the possible issues that can arise from searching someone’s person, property or home. If the police did not follow proper procedure or did not obey the constitution in executing a search, then the proper avenue is to file a Motion to Suppress. In this instance, if the court does grant the motion, then whatever evidence was seized will be banned from being used in the trial.
Motion to Suppress the Arrest
One last issue frequently litigated is whether the arrest and or stop of a defendant was lawful. This is most often seen in the effectuation of traffic stop. Was there an infraction committed? Did the police hold the suspect for an unreasonable amount of time during the traffic stop to extend the stop just to investigate other possible crimes? Did the police have probable cause when the arrested the suspect? Again, if there are issues regarding any of these matters then a Motion to Suppress can be used to seek a ruling that the police action was unlawful. In this instance, if granted this type of a suppression will many times be fatal to the state’s case and result in a dismissal.
Contact Banks & Brower
The foregoing are the most common reasons that a Motion to Suppress is filed. There are other areas a defense attorney may utilize a Motion to Suppress as a tool in a criminal case. If you have any questions about the possibility of suppressing evidence in a case, you should definitely seek the advice and counsel of a criminal defense attorney.
At Banks & Brower, we carefully review every case to see if there are any avenues for possible Motion to Suppress. If you have a criminal case you would like a free consultation on give the attorneys at Banks & Brower a call at (317) 870-0019 24 hours a day.