If you have been charged with a crime, you may find yourself in court. You and your attorney will have spoken at length, and chances are you already know about the evidence the prosecution will attempt to use against you. An attorney experienced in criminal defense knows how to suppress evidence, and may file motions to suppress in order to get certain pieces of evidence thrown out before it can be used against you.
When evidence is gathered illegally, it is thrown out of court using the exclusionary rule. This prevents the prosecution from using evidence which may violate your Fourth Amendment rights. For example, evidence that was gathered during an illegal search of your vehicle cannot be used against you in court. Violations of the Fifth and Sixth Amendments may also be used to suppress evidence.
The court may use a variety of reasons to suppress evidence in a criminal proceeding. There are few exceptions to the rules the police must follow. Here are common reasons that evidence may be suppressed before it is admitted into a proceeding.
Unlawful Search and Seizure: In almost all cases, police must have a warrant to search your home and vehicle. Probable cause must be used to secure a search warrant in order to gather evidence in a case.
Miranda Rights: You can say anything you want to the police and it can be used against you. That said, those must be voluntary utterances. Once the police decide to start asking you questions, they must first read you your Miranda Rights or the Miranda Warning. These rights tell you that you do not have to speak to the police without a lawyer present. If the police question you with having read you your rights, the answers you give may be suppressed.
Errors in Chain of Custody: When evidence is gathered legally, it must pass through a chain of custody. Every time it is handled, handed off or stored, there must be a form filled out and signed. This is called the chain of custody. If that chain is broken and it can be proved that evidence was mishandled, that evidence may be suppressed by the court.
As in anything in life, there are exceptions. Even if the police make mistakes or behave improperly, there may be situations in which evidence will not be suppressed.
Inevitable Discovery: When evidence is gathered illegally but a judge believes that it would have eventually been discovered anyway, it may still be admitted, a doctrine based on a court case from 1984.
Good Faith: When police make a mistake despite acting in good faith, evidence gathered may or may not be suppressed. For example, a police searches based on what they believe to be a good warrant only to find out the warrant had some type of clerical error, the evidence may still be admitted.
Independent Source: If an independent party could have provided the same evidence that would have otherwise been suppressed, a judge may allow it to enter the proceedings.
This is only a brief explanation of the suppression of evidence. If you have been arrested and charged with a crime in Orlando, call our office as soon as possible. We will review the details of your unique case and advise you of your options.