Motions to Suppress: Getting Evidence Excluded
If you’re being charged with a crime, it is tough to weigh all your options for suppressing evidence that was illegally obtained. However, you do not have to face these challenges alone. A criminal defense attorney can help you file a motion to suppress evidence and support you at the requisite hearings.
If you’ve been charged with a crime in Washington, contact Attorney Nicholas George at Nicholas George Law Firm PLLC in Kennewick. He has the knowledge, experience, and resources to fight for your rights while keeping your best interests in mind.
What Is a Motion to Suppress?
A motion to suppress is a written request to the court for certain evidence to be excluded from consideration in the case. You and your attorney can request that evidence in a case against you be suppressed if that evidence was unlawfully obtained.
Evidence is unlawfully obtained if you were not given due process when the evidence was collected. Usually, this happens if your Fourth, Fifth, or Sixth Amendment rights are violated.
Fourth Amendment: Unreasonable Search and Seizure
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects you from “unreasonable searches and seizures.” This means that the police cannot search your person or your home, vehicle, or anywhere else where you should have a “legitimate expectation of privacy” without probable cause. This protection does not apply if you are carrying something illegal in “plain view,” or if you have something illegal in “plain view” on your property.
For example, if you were stopped on the street and searched without probable cause—or if the police searched your house or car without a warrant—and they found something illegal (say, a weapon), the “exclusionary rule” should apply, meaning that this evidence should not be admissible in court. This can also apply to a sobriety test performed by the police after an illegal traffic stop (i.e., a traffic stop that is initiated without probable cause). The exclusionary rule can be critical for a defense against these types of crimes, arrests for which are on the rise. In 2022, according to the Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs, 22,085 people were arrested for DUI and 1,444 people were arrested for drug violations.
Fifth and Sixth Amendments: Right to Avoid Self-Incrimination and Right to an Attorney
The Fifth Amendment protects you from being compelled to (or coerced into) incriminating yourself, and the Sixth Amendment states that you have the right to have an attorney provided for you. If the police question you while you are in their custody, they must read you your Miranda rights (including your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney) before they question you. If they did not do this or continued to question you after you stated your request for an attorney, your attorney can argue that any evidence obtained from that interrogation—including confessions—should be considered to have been obtained illegally. It is also unlawful for law enforcement to threaten you with violence or use physical violence against you in order to obtain information.
What Kind of Evidence Can Be Suppressed?
Evidence that can be suppressed includes both tangible and testimonial evidence. Examples of tangible evidence include physical objects such as drugs, weapons, vehicles, clothes, or electronics that are found in a search. Testimonial evidence includes relayed information and confessions. Testimonial evidence can also include identifications; for example, if police are found to have in any way coerced witnesses into identifying you in a lineup, your attorney can argue that the evidence should be suppressed. Any evidence that is later found to have been tampered with is also subject to suppression.
What Is the Process for Filing One?
Motions to suppress are filed before the trial begins. Your criminal defense lawyer, after reviewing the evidence, will file a motion to suppress with the court. The judge will either approve it immediately or will set a date for a hearing. During this hearing, your lawyer will be able to cross-examine the members of law enforcement who unlawfully searched or questioned you (or made evidence subject to suppression in any other way).
If the judge decides in your favor, they will grant your motion to suppress and the evidence in question will not be admissible in court. There is a chance that, without enough evidence, one or more of the charges—or even the entire case—could be dismissed. If you lose the motion to suppress, the evidence will be allowed into trial, but you can appeal the judge’s decision if you are later convicted.
Get Elite Representation Now
If you have been charged with a crime in Washington and suspect that evidence against you has been unlawfully obtained, contact Nicholas George Law Firm PLLC for reliable representation. Attorney Nicholas George prides himself on his relationships with his clients, providing honest, compassionate advice and expert support to those who find themselves facing a criminal charge and trial. Call Nicholas George Law Firm PLLC in Kennewick, Washington, for an appointment.