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Motions to Suppress: The What, The Why, and The How

Motions to Suppress: The What, The Why, and The How
December 25, 2019 Shannon Dawes
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When you are charged with one or more criminal offenses, it is the prosecution’s burden to prove you are guilty of those charges beyond a reasonable doubt to a judge or jury. In order to meet this obligation, the prosecution must present evidence and witness testimony. What check is there, though, on law enforcement officers who obtain information or evidence in violation of your constitutional rights? How can you ensure that a confession you made without the assistance and advice of an attorney or evidence obtained by entering your home illegally and without a warrant from being used against you? The answer is simple: a motion to suppress.

What is a Motion to Suppress?

The purpose of a motion to suppress is found in its name: it is a legal motion asking the court to suppress (or keep out) evidence or information that was obtained illegally. When the court grants a motion to suppress, the court is depriving law enforcement of the use of such information in the case at hand and attempting to dissuade them from engaging in similar conduct in the future. Examples of evidence or information that is commonly suppressed includes:

  • Custodial statements made by defendants who are not advised of their Miranda rights or who are interrogated despite asking for legal counsel.
  • Evidence obtained from a warrantless search where no exception applies, such as a warrantless blood draw during an OVI investigation.
  • A traffic stop of a vehicle or the detention of a person on the street where no reasonable suspicion or probable cause existed to justify the stop and seizure.

When Should a Motion to Suppress Be Filed?

Motions to suppress are pretrial motions, which means they must be filed before a trial commences. In criminal cases, the judge presiding over the trial will set a deadline for the filing of pretrial motions. While motions to suppress may be filed at any time prior to the court-imposed deadline, they should be filed pursuant to a comprehensive and well-planned defense strategy.

What Happens If a Motion to Suppress is Granted?

If the court agrees that evidence or information was illegally obtained and should be suppressed, then the prosecution is not permitted to refer to or introduce the suppressed evidence or information at trial. Failure to abide by the court’s orders in this regard could be grounds for a mistrial to be declared.

After evidence has been suppressed, the prosecution is forced to reevaluate the case and its ability to proceed to trial. Where critical evidence is suppressed (like the results of a breath test or blood test in an OVI case), the prosecution may not be able to continue with its case at all, instead having to dismiss some or all of the charges. In other situations (such as a confession being suppressed), the prosecution may be more willing to offer a favorable plea agreement in light of the increased uncertainty of conviction.

Where to Get Help Filing a Motion to Suppress

An experienced and skilled criminal defense lawyer in Ohio is best able to review the reports and narratives of law enforcement in your case and determine what evidence is ripe for suppression. At Dawes Legal, LLC, our knowledgeable criminal defense team can quickly spot potential areas in your case where law enforcement may have stepped over the line, and we will draft and file motions to suppress as well as take other appropriate actions to help ensure that illegally-obtained evidence is not used to convict you. Call our office at (614) 733-9999 or reach out to us through our website to set up your consultation today.