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Components of a Defense: Motions to Suppress

Interviewer:  Let’s go over some of the typical defenses that you use to help defend your clients.  Every case is different.  Let’s talk about motions to suppress evidence or testimony.  Why does it help a client’s case if you are successful in arguing that motion?

Both Physical Evidence and Oral Testimony Are Items the Defense Attorney Will Argue to Suppress

Ben Doscher: There are motions to suppress all different kinds of evidence.  This includes physical evidence and oral statements and if those are suppressed, then the prosecution may no longer have any evidence to present to prove you guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Proving Illegal Search and Seizures Can Result in Suppressing Any Incriminating Evidence That Would Be Presented against a Defendant 

For example, if all they have is some drugs that they found, but the police uncovered the drugs illegally, then they no longer can use that piece of evidence against you and they don’t have a case against you.  Simple as that.

Interviewer: What’s the most common type of evidence that you’ve gotten suppressed and what was required to do it?

Disproving Reasonable or Probable Cause Can Also Lead to a Successful Motion to Suppress

Ben Doscher: Many times, the police don’t have reasonable or probable cause. For example, initially, they might not have a valid reason to really stop you but they do and they discover drugs on your person. However, there was no valid reason to stop you in the first place and question you or do anything to you in the first place.  Often times, the evidence, in this case the drugs, can be suppressed and cannot be used against you in a criminal case.

The police must have some reasonable suspicion to approach you.

The Police Are Required to Obtain a Search Warrant in Many Instances

Interviewer: Are there any other really common scenarios?

Ben Doscher: Sometimes they find evidence in a car when they have no search warrant.  They search a car for whatever reason, that’s another time when they need to wait for a warrant, but they typically don’t.

If You Consent to a Police Search, They do Not Need to Obtain a Warrant

Interviewer: If the police are about to search your car, will they ask you for permission or they’ll just do it?

Ben Doscher: Yes, they’ll just do it.  If you consent to it, then they don’t need the warrant but if you don’t consent to it, then they do.

Why Do the Police Proceed with a Search without Obtaining Your Consent?

Interviewer: Let’s go a little bit deeper on this.  If the police want to search your car, will they typically ask you or they’ll just say we’re going to search your car and don’t even give you a chance to say no?

Ben Doscher: It doesn’t happen all the time, but it does happen. They’re proceeding on the presumption that in court the district attorney will be able to say they had probable cause or there was eminent danger. So they didn’t need a warrant, but oftentimes that’s not the case and they could and should have waited to get a warrant.