When evidence is suppressed in a criminal case, it can’t be used in court. That means the prosecutor won’t be able to present it to a judge or jury when making their arguments. Depending on the strength of the evidence, suppressing it can lead to a case dismissal. However, the matter may move forward without the excluded evidence, and the prosecutor may rely on other pieces of information to support their claims. Still, having evidence suppressed can increase the chances of obtaining a more favorable outcome.
To seek to have evidence excluded in your case, you must file a motion to suppress. Your request must contain a thorough legal analysis and persuasive arguments to convince the judge to approve it. A criminal defense attorney can assist with determining how the evidence was collected and applying the law to craft a sound motion to suppress.
Grounds for Suppressing Evidence
You can’t ask for evidence to be excluded just because you don’t want the prosecutor to be able to use it in your case. You must have a valid reason to seek a suppression.
Generally, requests to suppress evidence are based on constitutional violations causing an unlawful collection of the information.
Two of the most common grounds for excluding evidence include a violation of:
- Fourth Amendment rights. The Fourth Amendment provides that all people should be secure in their persons and property. Therefore, they cannot be subject to an illegal search of their selves, home, car, or other belongings. For the most part, a search may be deemed unlawful if law enforcement officials conducted it without a warrant. A warrant may be granted if a judge determines that probable cause exists to believe that evidence of an alleged crime will be found in the area to be searched. Evidence collected without a warrant may be inadmissible in court.
- Fifth Amendment rights. Under the Fifth Amendment, individuals involved in criminal matters are protected from serving as a witness against themselves. They cannot be required to make any statements that could incriminate them. In other words, the Fifth Amendment gives people the right to remain silent. Law enforcement officials must remind those arrested of this right before they interrogate the person by reading the Miranda warning. Statements made by someone not informed of their rights or involuntarily may be excluded as evidence.
How to Request a Suppression of Evidence
Your attorney must file a motion to ask a judge to consider excluding evidence in your case. A motion is a written document stating what you are requesting and why.
Your lawyer may draft a motion to suppress after they have received and reviewed the prosecutor’s evidence. During their analysis, they will determine how the evidence was obtained and whether any flaws were apparent in its recovery.
A judge may listen to your attorney’s arguments at a suppression hearing and decide whether to grant the request.
The Effects of Evidence Suppression on Your Case
In a criminal matter, the prosecutor must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. They may present various pieces of evidence to support their claims.
If your motion to suppress is approved, the prosecutor may be deprived of evidence they were going to submit to the court.
Excluding evidence can impact your case in a couple of ways:
- Dismissal. If the piece of evidence were a critical part of the prosecutor’s arguments, they might not have sufficient information to prove their assertions. This can result in a dismissal, which means your case ends, and you cannot be criminally liable.
- Weakened. The excluded evidence might not have been a vital factor in helping the prosecutor prove guilt. The prosecutor might have other facts they can rely on to make their point. However, if they can’t use certain pieces of evidence, they might not be able to remove doubt from the minds of the judge or jury. If the finder of fact isn’t convinced beyond a reasonable doubt, they cannot return a guilty verdict.
Contact an Attorney Today
Although law enforcement officials might have collected evidence against you, do not lose hope in your case. Your attorney can explore various legal avenues to seek to have pieces of evidence suppressed, which can increase the chances of obtaining a favorable outcome.
To learn about the paths that may be explored in your Rhode Island case, please contact The Law Office of Thomas C. Thomasian, Esq. at (401) 312-4385.