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Motion to Suppress: What it Means in a Criminal Case

motion to suppress in a criminal case

An experienced criminal defense attorney will employ various tools and strategies to ensure you receive a fair trial. One of these tools is the motion to suppress, which can play a vital role in protecting your rights.

Understanding the purpose of a motion to suppress is essential if you’re facing criminal charges. This article will explain the legal grounds for such motions and the potential impact on a criminal case, which can provide valuable insights into the complexities of the justice system.

What is a Motion to Suppress?

When the defense in a criminal case requests a motion to suppress, they ask the court to prohibit certain evidence from being presented at trial. This request is typically made if there are allegations that law enforcement obtained the evidence in a way that violates the defendant’s constitutional rights.

  • The Fourth Amendment is the primary amendment cited in these motions. It protects against unreasonable searches and seizures.
  • The Fifth Amendment guards against self-incrimination.
  • The Sixth Amendment ensures the right to counsel.

This motion ensures that evidence obtained unlawfully cannot be used to convict someone. It also upholds the integrity of the judicial process and protects the accused’s constitutional rights.

Grounds for Filing a Motion to Suppress

When evidence is illegally obtained, it can significantly impact a case, and the defense has the right to challenge its admissibility. Here are some grounds for filing a motion to suppress.

  • Illegal Search and Seizure—Under the Fourth Amendment, evidence obtained through an unlawful search and seizure can be challenged. This includes instances where law enforcement conducted a search without a valid warrant or exceeded the scope of a legally obtained warrant.
  • Violation of Miranda Rights — If law enforcement fails to inform a suspect of their Miranda Rights before an interrogation, any self-incriminating statements made during that interrogation can be suppressed.
  • Coerced Confessions — Evidence, especially confessions, obtained through coercion, threats, or physical abuse is inadmissible. This evidence is considered unreliable and a violation of the Fifth Amendment.
  • Lack of Probable Cause—Arrests or searches conducted without probable cause can suppress all evidence obtained as a result of that illegal action.
  • Improper Lineup or Identification Procedures — If a defendant was identified through suggestive or improper police lineups, that identification can be challenged and potentially suppressed.

Process of Filing a Motion to Suppress

Before the trial begins, the defense attorney files a motion to suppress. This written motion describes the specific evidence to be suppressed and explains the legal grounds for suppression.

During the hearing, both the defense and the prosecution present their arguments. The defense presents evidence and witnesses to support the claim that the questionable evidence was unlawfully obtained, including any breaks in the chain of custody.

After hearing arguments from both sides, the judge rules on whether the evidence should be suppressed. Their ruling is based on legal precedents, the credibility of witnesses, and the specific circumstances of the case.

How a Successful Motion to Suppress Affects Your Criminal Case

The successful suppression of evidence can significantly impact a criminal case. Here’s how.

  • Weakening the Prosecution’s Case — If critical evidence is suppressed, the prosecution may be left without sufficient proof to establish the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
  • Leverage for a Plea Bargain—A successful motion to suppress can provide the defense with substantial leverage in plea negotiations. If the prosecution’s key evidence is excluded, it may be more willing to offer favorable plea deals.
  • Case Dismissal — Sometimes, the suppression of critical evidence can result in the dismissal of the entire case. Without the suppressed evidence, the prosecution may decide it cannot proceed with the charges.
  • Trial Strategy — When evidence is excluded, the prosecution is forced to rethink its trial strategy. The defense can take advantage of this by emphasizing the weaknesses in the prosecution’s case to the jury.
  • Setting Legal Precedents — Successful motions to suppress can also contribute to the development of case law. Judicial decisions in suppression hearings can set precedents that affect future cases, particularly in defining the boundaries of lawful and unlawful police conduct.

Turn to Jeremy Widder Law if You’re Facing Criminal Charges

A motion to suppress is an important tool for criminal defense attorneys. It serves as a critical check on law enforcement practices and provides an individual’s constitutional rights. Successful suppression motions safeguard individual rights and maintain the integrity of the judicial system.

When you choose Jeremy Widder Law, you’re not just getting an experienced criminal defense attorney. You’re gaining a dedicated team committed to protecting your rights and securing your future. Let us advocate for you when navigating the legal system and ensure justice is served.

Contact us today for a consultation.


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