Motion to Suppress Evidence California (Penal Code §1538.5)
If you believe that police have gathered evidence against you illegally, or that your Constitutional rights may have been violated, it is important to speak with an attorney. An attorney will review your case and determine if a motion to suppress evidence should be filed in your case. If this motion to suppress evidence is successful, it can help to secure a reduction or dismissal of the charges in your case.
Understanding the Motion to Suppress
Purpose: The motion to suppress, as defined in California Penal Code 1538.5 PC, exists to prevent the state from using any evidence that was obtained illegally. If your attorney could not file a motion to suppress evidence there would be no consequences for violating your Constitutional rights.
Scope: The motion to suppress can be filed to exclude any tangible or intangible evidence that is tainted because it was gathered as the result of some illegal or improper activity. This evidence is often referred to as “fruit of the poisonous tree.” This means that an illegal act started the chain of events that led to specific evidence in your case. Had the police/prosecutor not violated your rights, they never would have stumbled across this evidence.
Behaviors that can result in tainted evidence include:
- Exceeding the scope of a lawful search warrant;
- Improper or unlawful arrest;
- Executing a search without probable cause;
- Failure to administer Miranda rights; and
- Questioning you without an attorney present, after you have made this request.
Motion to Suppress Hearings
Filing a Motion to Suppress Evidence: Once your attorney has determined that your rights were violated and that the prosecution has tainted evidence they will file a motion to suppress. This motion is usually made during pretrial hearings, either during your arraignment or a separate suppression hearing. If you are charged with a felony, and your motion to suppress is denied, you will have the right to re-file your motion to be heard during an independent hearing.
Arguments at a Suppression Hearing: Your attorney and the prosecutor trying your case will each offer arguments about why evidence should (or should not) be suppressed. These arguments are made in the presence of a judge who will have the ultimate say in whether evidence must be suppressed. The judge will consider evidence, testimony from you and other witnesses, and oral arguments by both attorneys.
Motion to Suppress Rulings: A judge has three options when ruling on a motion to suppress: grant, deny, or grant in part. When the motion to suppress is granted the evidence that is the subject of that motion cannot be used against you. The prosecution must proceed with their case without relying on that illegally-obtained evidence.
When the motion to suppress is denied the evidence that is the subject of that motion can be included in the prosecution’s case against you. This means that the judge was not persuaded that your rights were violated or that this evidence was connected to the violation of your rights.
A judge can also grant your motion to suppress evidence in part. Many times, you will make a motion to suppress multiple pieces of evidence. A judge may decide that some, but not all, of the evidence should be excluded from your trial.
What Happens After a Motion to Suppress Hearing?
The events that follow a motion to suppress hearing depend on the outcome of your motion.
Motion to Suppress Granted: If your motion to suppress was granted the prosecution may decide to negotiate a reduction or dismissal of the charges against you. The prosecution may also decide to appeal the trial judge’s decision and fight to have the evidence re-admitted. It is important to know that even if the evidence is suppressed in your trial it can be used against you during parole proceedings, deportation hearings, and grand jury proceedings.
Motion to Suppress Denied: If your motion to suppress was denied the case will continue as if the motion was never made. This means that you will have to choose if you want to try to work out a plea bargain with the state or take your chances at trial. You will have 30 days to appeal the trial judge’s denial of your motion to suppress.
Have Your Rights Been Violated? Call The Rodriguez Law Group
If your Constitutional rights have been infringed or violated in any way it is important to call an attorney. The state can be prohibited from using any evidence they gather that is related to the violation of your rights. However, you will have to be proactive and file a motion to suppress this tainted evidence. Your chances of a successful outcome increase when you hire an attorney to handle your case.
Call The Rodriguez Law Group today to find out how we can help you fight the criminal charges you face in Los Angeles.