What is a Motion to Suppress Evidence in a Criminal Case?
Motion to suppress evidence is a motion basically to try to limit the evidence or the topics that a prosecutor could talk about if a case went to trial.
When is a Motion to Suppress Evidence Typically Filed in the Case Process?
Under the rules, a motion to suppress evidence needs to be filed before the omnibus hearing. However, that deadline can be extended if the prosecutor discloses new evidence later on after the omnibus hearing. You always have a chance to review and challenge that new evidence as well. Technically, it’s before the omnibus hearing is when the motion needs to be filed, but there are some exceptions to that.
What Are The Most Common Grounds For Filing a Motion to Suppress Evidence?
The most common grounds for filing a motion to suppress evidence fall under two categories. The first category would be constitutional violations and the second category would be more of a due process violation. A typical constitutional violation that we see would be an illegal search or seizure. Perhaps an officer pulls over a vehicle and ultimately searches it without a warrant. Whether they could do that is subject to very narrow exceptions because the law presumes that the officer needs to have a warrant in order to search a vehicle or anything else. The judge would have to decide if the search falls under one of the exceptions to the warrant rule, so that would be a constitutional violation.
The due process violation would be if the law enforcement or the prosecutor didn’t follow some sort of established process that tends to be contrary to fairness or to justice in general. Sometimes we see violations regarding people’s statements that they make if they’ve given some sort of a statement that is incriminating. We look to see whether they were read their Miranda Rights before they were questioned or whether they were in custody. All of those can be a basis for a suppression motion.
Can Someone Have a Confession Actually Thrown Out?
A confession can be thrown out if it was not voluntary, and the law calls it intelligent, meaning did the person know what they were doing. What that boils down to, whether it is voluntary or intelligent, is did the person know that they were being interrogated and did they know that they could decline to answer questions. If they weren’t told of those things and they were in custody during the interrogation, then a confession can be thrown out. I see it a lot of times where people say that they weren’t read their Miranda Rights when they were arrested and they want the charges thrown out because of that. Unfortunately, the law does not require that the police read you Miranda Rights at the moment you are arrested. They have to read you your rights if they are going to interrogate you and you’re in custody. You have to have both factors; interrogation while in custody. If one of those things is lacking, the charges or the confession are probably not going to be thrown out in a suppression motion hearing.
What Does a Judge Consider When Deciding Whether to Grant a Motion to Suppress or Not?
The judge needs to consider several factors when deciding whether to grant a motion to suppress or not and the factors change depending on the type of challenge. If there is a search and seizure violation challenge, they need to consider what were the circumstances surrounding the search or the seizure and is there an exception to the rule that a warrant is required. If it’s a due process challenge, then the judge is looking at the fairness and more of a balancing test of fairness versus what happened in the particular situation.
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