How Your Attorney May Try to Suppress Evidence
You have seen it on television. A courtroom drama depicts two opposing sides and one is shouting about evidence being inadmissible. While this certainly can happen from time to time, motions to suppress evidence most often occur well before a trial begins. If a defendant wins their motion to suppress, the possibility of a judge having to dismiss an entire case is present. Of course, this depends on how important the suppressed evidence was to a prosecutor’s case.
When a defense attorney files a motion to suppress evidence, it is almost always with regards to the Fourth Amendment. Other instances of motions to suppress evidence occur when eyewitness identification is used to name the defendant as the person who committed a crime. Typically, however, a motion to suppress evidence occurs when the evidence is obtained by illegal or unconstitutional means.
Robert and Michael are walking down the street minding their own business. There is no reason to believe that either of the men have committed a crime, nor are they reported to have done so. Despite these facts, Officers Smith and Washington pull up alongside the pair and order them to stop. The officers exit their vehicle and conduct pat-down searches of both men. During the frisk search, Officer Washington locates a baggie of crack cocaine in Michael’s pocket and charges Michael with drug possession.
Michael obtains a criminal defense attorney who files a motion to suppress the crack cocaine evidence. The motion is granted because the officers had no reasonable suspicion with which to stop, talk to or detain the pair of men. The officers also had no legal grounds to search Robert or Michael. Because the prosecution cannot prove that a crime was committed without the evidence, the case is dismissed.
In order to stop someone and detain them, the police must have reasonable suspicion or the report of a crime. In absence of this, police cannot legally detain anyone, let alone search them, yet it happens far too frequently. When it does, the person charged with a crime has the right to a fair trial and, as part of that trial, may ask that evidence gained during an illegal stop be suppressed. When the facts are in the favor of the defendant and it can be proven that the police acted in an unlawful manner, the charges may be dropped altogether.
If you have been arrested for a crime in Atlanta, you need the experienced representation of an attorney from Hawkins Spizman Fortas on your side. We know the local court system and we understand how prosecutors operate. Call our office today for a free case evaluation and discover more about your rights. We will review the details of your arrest and charges and help you make the best decisions for your unique situation.