Can My Case Be Dismissed if a Motion to Suppress Is Granted?
Yes, but it depends on the type of evidence. If it’s the only piece of evidence that you committed the crime, the state will almost certainly dismiss the case after losing the motion to suppress. If the evidence is less important, the state may still refuse to dismiss the case.
Can You Relate a Few Examples of Cases Where You Have Successfully Used a Motion to Suppress?
I’ve been fortunate enough where I have not had to rely on a motion to suppress to win a client’s case.
If it’s pretty clear that the search was illegal (and you’re dealing with a reasonable prosecutor), you can get a dismissal without going through filing a motion to suppress. If it’s a questionable search where the judge could rule either way, it’s usually possible to work out a deal that’s favorable enough to the client that it’s not worth risking a trial or a dispositive motion to suppress. If the evidence isn’t key and there’s a good enough chance at a not guilty even if the evidence comes in, then you’re going to rely on a not guilty to win the case—not a motion to suppress.
What Are Common Grounds for Filing a Motion to Suppress Evidence?
If we’re talking about a police search that led to physical evidence, it depends on whether the search was done with or without a warrant.
If the search was done pursuant to a warrant, there are a couple of arguments that you can make to attack it. One is that the warrant did not provide sufficient probable cause for the judge to sign off on it. Another is that the officer actually lied in the warrant and that you can prove that the officer lied. A third is that, if the warrant relied on the use of the confidential informant, the confidential informant wasn’t reliable or gave bad information and because of that, there was no probable cause for the warrant. You can also argue that the warrant did not meet other technical legal requirements. You can argue that the warrant relied on information that was too old or that the warrant was executed too long after it was signed.
However, the vast majority of searches are done without a warrant. Most of those searches involve the police searching a car after a traffic stop. In these situations, you can argue that there was no traffic violation, that the traffic violation the officer witnessed didn’t justify a search of the car, or that the evidence the officer had before searching the car was not enough to justify a search of the car.
These are just a few of the arguments you can make to suppress a warrantless search. There are plenty of others, and they all depend on the facts of the particular case.
If we’re talking about suppressing statements made to the police, the arguments are different. Sometimes statements can be suppressed if you weren’t read your Miranda warnings, if the police coerced you into talking to them, or if you were held by the police too long before they questioned you.
Can I Get a Confession Thrown Out in a Criminal Case?
Yes, you can get a confession thrown out in a criminal case but it’s going to be exceptionally rare. You would need to argue that the police did not read you your Miranda rights if the confession was made as part of the custodial interrogation or something else prevented the confession from being voluntary, such as the forced you by making threats off-camera or they denied you access to the bathroom or food and water or the ability to see anybody for an extended period of time. You could also argue that a confession is involuntary because you were extremely intoxicated or were having some sort of mental health crisis and didn’t fully comprehend what you were saying.
However, it is very difficult to get a confession thrown out. Most officers are good about making sure that the requirements for valid confessions are met, and judges are generally more reluctant to suppress confessions than illegal searches.
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