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What is evidence suppression?

| Jun 4, 2021 | criminal defense |

Evidence at a trial in Maryland is crucial for the prosecution to convict a defendant. However, it doesn’t mean that all the evidence presented can be used against the defendant. Prosecutors must present relevant and competent evidence, meaning evidence that has been obtained legally and relates to the charge.

Motion to suppress

To prevent evidence from getting used in court, the criminal defense must file a motion to suppress with federal or state court. The motion to suppress relates to the exclusionary rule, which violates Fourth Amendment and Fifth Amendment rights. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects against illegal search and seizure, and the Fifth Amendment protects citizens against self-incrimination.

The defendant’s criminal law attorney must present factual and reasonable arguments to the judge to suppress evidence. Cases may get dismissed based on how crucial the evidence is to the trial. Evidence suppression can also prevent an eyewitness from identifying a defendant in a lineup if they are proven unreliable.

Reasons a court may toss evidence

Police must obtain a search warrant to collect evidence by submitting an affidavit to the judge. There are some exceptions to search warrants, but police still need probable cause to search, not just suspicion. For example, if the police search a vehicle for drugs during a traffic stop without a warrant, the prosecution can’t use a bag of cocaine the police found as evidence.

A court may suppress evidence from confessions obtained by physical force or coercion or without reading Miranda rights to the defendant. Sometimes, evidence gets tossed because of attenuation, which happens when the handling of evidence reduces its effectiveness to stand as proof.

Even if the police act out of the bounds of law, evidence could still become admissible under some circumstances. A defendant needs an experienced legal team to help them identify evidence that they may be able to suppress.

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