Experienced trial lawyers and litigators know all too well that a trial can be won or lost before the case ever reaches the jury for deliberations. In fact, a trial can be won or lost well in advance of the trial date. While this may be a bit of an over-generalization, the point underlying this is sound: the decisions and orders entered by the court before trial commences can have a significant impact on the ultimate outcome of the trial. A well-researched and presented motion to suppress can, in some cases, result in the dismissal of all criminal charges against a person.
Motions to Suppress: What Are They and What Do They Accomplish?
A “motion to suppress” (sometimes the wording is a bit different from one locale to the next) is a pretrial motion, typically filed by defendants or their attorneys, asking the court to “suppress” (or keep out) certain evidence in the case. Motions to suppress argue that certain items of evidence or information learned by law enforcement were obtained illegally, and the prosecution should not be entitled to benefit at trial by being able to present the illegally-obtained evidence or information. Motions to suppress must generally be filed well in advance of trial so that the court has sufficient time to make a ruling on the motion.
Common reasons why evidence or testimony might be suppressed include:
- The accused was not given his or her Miranda warnings before being questioned by police;
- A confession of the accused was not freely or knowingly made, or law enforcement used tactics that were unduly coercive in eliciting the confession;
- A search was illegal in that a warrant was not obtained and there were no circumstances that would have excused law enforcement from obtaining one;
- Law enforcement did not comply with statutory procedures in obtaining a breath or blood sample from the accused; and
- Other similar factual scenarios and patterns.
If a motion to suppress is granted, then the item(s) of evidence listed in the motion or the statements described in the motion are kept out from trial, and the prosecution cannot refer to them unless the defendant does so first. If a traffic stop or search is determined to be illegal, then any evidence obtained after the stop or the commencement of the search may be suppressed as well.
What Happens After a Motion to Suppress is Filed?
When the defendant files a motion to suppress, a hearing is scheduled before the judge presiding over the trial. At this hearing, the prosecution most often bears the responsibility of producing witnesses and evidence that show the judge that the search, seizure, or other activity of law enforcement was legal and proper under the circumstances. The defendant can (but often need not) present any evidence of his or her own as to why the motion to suppress should be granted. The court will then make a ruling on the motion to suppress, either that day at the conclusion of the hearing or later through a written order.
Let Dawes Legal, LLC Help You Prepare and File a Motion to Suppress
While a knowledgeable Ohio criminal defense lawyer will know how to research, prepare, and file a solid motion to suppress, you may lose the ability to have such a motion heard by waiting too long before filing your motion. By speaking with Dawes Legal, LLC and identifying issues with law enforcement’s investigation in your matter early, you preserve your ability to challenge police conduct. A successful motion to suppress can severely hamper or entirely prevent the prosecution from proceeding with its case against you, so do not wait to call Dawes Legal, LLC at (614) 733-9999.