A motion to suppress evidence is a document filed with the court in a criminal case alleging some violation of a defendant’s constitutional, statutory, or administrative rights. In Ohio, there are specific rules for the filing of the motion to suppress. If these rules are not followed, including filing past the time limit, any issues with the police investigation may evade review by the court. Because of this and the complexity of the law surrounding suppression of evidence, it is important to have an attorney skilled in motion practice when pursuing a motion to suppress evidence.
A motion to suppress evidence can play a key role in any criminal prosecution. The overriding principle in a criminal prosecution is that a defendant must be proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This is a high standard of proof in the judicial system. Because of this, the evidence that is ultimately admissible against a criminal defendant in court is critical. The admission of evidence in court is governed by complex constitutional, statutory, and administrative laws, as well as court rules. One of the tools used in excluding evidence from use at trial is the motion to suppress evidence.
The evidence to be suppressed can be in many forms. Traditionally you may think of evidence to be suppressed as actual physical items, like drugs or stolen merchandise. However, a defendant’s statements are also subject to suppression if they are obtained in violation of Miranda rights, or are the product of undue coercion or duress. Additionally, an identification by witnesses can be excluded in certain instances, as well as the results of scientific tests (like DUI breathalyzers) if proper procedure is not followed.
In some types of criminal cases, motions to suppress evidence are vital. The best example of this is a drug possession charge. In drug cases many times the issue is not whether the defendant actually had the drugs in their possession, but rather whether the police had the right to search and find the drugs. If the police infringed on the person’s right to privacy in some way, the law recognizes this as a violation requiring the evidence be suppressed. While drug prosecutions are the prominent example, a motion to suppress is also a critical tool in DUI cases and any other case where evidence is seized in an unlawful manner.
Evidence that is suppressed cannot be used at trial, thus making the State’s case weaker, possibly to the point of having to dismiss the charges. What benefit is there to letting a guilty person go when evidence is suppressed? The motion to suppress evidence is a checking force against police power. While it may benefit a defendant and let a guilty man go in a single case, its overarching effect is to ensure that police follow proper procedures and that everyone’s rights are safeguarded. The motion to suppress evidence serves this function.
If you are facing prosecution, it is important to consult with an attorney skilled in recognizing issues in your case and how to effectively defend them. Contact my Columbus, Ohio office to speak with an attorney skilled in presenting a motion to suppress.