Motions to Suppress: Getting Evidence Excluded
July 22, 2022
Not every piece of evidence that police and prosecutors collect make it into the courtroom. A defendant and their attorney have the right to file a motion to suppress evidence if it can be shown that it was illegally obtained or violated the rights of the accused under the U.S. Constitution or federal or state law.
It is actually up to the defense to challenge evidence. Police and prosecutors are not bound to verify the legality of evidence obtained. If you don’t challenge it, the tainted evidence can be used to convict you. Examples of illegally obtained evidence involve illegal searches and seizures, police failing to have probable cause to arrest you, and even so-called witnesses who wrongfully identify you in a lineup, among other examples.
Remember, if you’re being investigated for a crime, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately, and that means to do so before you say anything to authorities.
Hopefully, your Miranda Rights were read to you when they arrested you (and if they didn’t, that’s another reason to challenge evidence), which states that “anything you say can and will be used against you.” Police and prosecutors mean it – your every word can become fodder for the case against you. Get an attorney on your side immediately and observe your right to remain silent.
If you’re being investigated or being charged with a criminal act in or around Dallas, Texas, contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys at Madson Castello Law immediately. We have more than three decades of combined experience and have represented clients in more than 300 jury cases. We will examine the evidence against you and mount a vigorous defense, which includes using motions to suppress as a vehicle to protect your rights and presumed innocence.
Madson Castello Law represents clients in Dallas, and North Texas, including Fort Worth, Denton, and McKinney.
What Is a Motion to Suppress?
A motion to suppress is a perfectly legal vehicle to challenge evidence before the trial begins so that the evidence cannot be submitted by the prosecution and therefore presented before a jury. Motions to suppress, as mentioned earlier, must be based on violations of your rights under the U.S. Constitution or federal and state laws. Motions to suppress can be filed in both federal and state courts.
The 6th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution grants you the right to a speedy public trial before a jury of your peers. This is a large protection against a rush to judgment and punishment by the judicial system, but more importantly, the 4th and 5th Amendments constrain authorities in obtaining evidence against you.
The 4th Amendment protects you against illegal searches and seizures and requires authorities to obtain a search warrant before searching your residence or belongings. Search warrants, in addition, must be based upon probable cause – something you said or did that throws suspicion on you.
The 5th Amendment protects you from having to be a witness against yourself, which means in modern times to follow the Miranda warning and don’t answer police or prosecutor questions without an attorney being present. It also protects you against double jeopardy or being tried twice for the same crime.
In Texas, the Code of Criminal Procedure 38.23 states: “No evidence obtained by an officer or other person in violation of any provisions of the Constitution or laws of the State of Texas, or of the Constitution or laws of the United States of America, shall be admitted in evidence against the accused on the trial of any criminal case.”
Examples of Illegally Obtained Evidence
Two broad categories of illegally obtained evidence were already briefly mentioned – failure to read you your Miranda Rights and not having probable cause for the actions taken against you. If authorities fail to read your Miranda Rights to you and you say something that might implicate you, it cannot be used. Other examples of illegally obtained evidence may include:
Being interrogated and coerced into a statement or confession, whether through physical threats or psychological browbeating.
Being put in a lineup where you are made to stand out or where officers whisper to the witnesses, “What do you think about number three? He fits the description.”
Searching your smartphone and obtaining evidence without first seeking a search warrant.
A search of your premises that goes beyond the scope outlined in the warrant.
The Motion to Suppress Process
Motions to suppress are pretrial procedures meant to prevent prosecutors from using illegally obtained evidence. Ultimately, the judge assigned to the case will have to make a ruling on the motion, but in the process, prosecutors are given the right to challenge the motion, which is called a response.
When the motion gets to the courtroom for a hearing, both defense and prosecutors have had time to review both the motion and the prosecution’s response and can make their arguments before the presiding judge accordingly. Either side can introduce documents or call witnesses as necessary. The process can take time.
Experienced Advocacy You Can Trust
We at Madson Castello Law will thoroughly review all evidence by the prosecutor with an eye to challenging anything that looks suspicious or which appears to have been obtained in violation of your rights or the laws in question. We will certainly file motions to suppress if we do find evidence that needs to be challenged.
In addition, because of our many years first as prosecutors and criminal defense attorneys working in and around the Dallas area, we have professional contacts with police and prosecutors and can attempt to press your case even before charges have been filed.
Our team at Madson Castello Law are dedicated to providing you with personalized service. If you’re under investigation or facing charges in North Texas, contact us immediately, even before answering any questions from police or prosecutors. The earlier we can take on your case, the better the chances are of a more positive outcome.