What is Motion to Suppress?
A Motion to Suppress, or 1538.5 Motion (named for the Penal Code that authorizes it), is an important strategy in criminal defense. It can make the difference between a harsh sentence or charges being dismissed. Often times, it is the best way to preserve a defendant’s constitutional rights.
Good criminal defense attorneys investigate this possibility with every case. There is a reason why most criminal cases do not go to trial and it has to do with the quality and admissibility of the evidence. A successful Motion to Suppress can exclude inadmissible evidence, return property, and end the possibility of a lengthy and expensive trial.
Attorney Lance Daniel always considers the Motion to Suppress whether you are facing a misdemeanor or a life-altering felony. Here is what that entails and how it will help you.
Grounds for a Motion to Suppress
A Motion to Suppress Evidence is authorized under California Penal Section 1538.5. It grants the defendant the right to question evidence offered in support of conviction.
Attorneys file motions to make specific requests of the court. The effort includes a motion asking the court to consider a specific direction and a brief laying out the relevant legal arguments. Depending on circumstances, defense counsel either requests that some or even all of the evidence be excluded from trial.
Prosecutors file responsive briefs and the court will set a 1538.5 hearing. The judge will hear oral arguments but also the testimony of witnesses. So, if anyone witnessed your arrest and any searches, you can expect that we would contact them for testimony. Likewise, the prosecutor will call detectives and arresting officers to the stand. After hearing all the arguments, the judge will make a ruling that will deny or grant the motion.
Motions to Suppress Evidence most commonly respond to illegal searches and seizure. Using the “fruit of the poisonous tree” analogy well-known in legal precedent, the motion argues that evidence in these searches should not be submitted as proof of your guilt. Other constitutional grounds advanced in a Motion to Suppress include a lack of probable cause or involuntary confessions. Occasionally, a strong motion arises from seeing that the evidence described in a search warrant does not match up with what was actually seized from the premises. Since the prosecutor must prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, even the smallest missteps can remove your charges.
Violating a defendant’s constitutional rights is grounds for dismissal or at the very least, removes enough evidence that only lesser charges can stick. Depending on the situation, your defense attorney will either move to dismiss the charges once the Motion to Suppress is granted or use it to affect a plea bargain.
How a Motion to Suppress Can Help You
First, a Motion to Suppress assures that you are treated fairly. If your constitutional rights were violated at any stage of arrest, it is not acceptable for you to face conviction. Defense attorneys investigate thoroughly to assess the success of this motion. They may request police reports, search warrants, surveillance videos, and police dash camera footage. Your attorney may also call your witnesses and check their perspective. This is necessary to understand the exact circumstances of arrest and where any constitutional shortcomings arose.
Second, if completed successfully, the motion will reduce or eliminate your charges. There are many criminal cases dismissed simply because the evidence to prosecute was no longer available after a successful suppression. The advantage to you here is obvious—you no longer have to face the possibility of a criminal sentence.
However, even if the Motion to Suppress is not granted, it still puts the prosecutor on notice. It grants better negotiating room because it becomes well-known that the defense attorney is paying attention. Not all hope is lost if the evidence remains unsuppressed. Even when a Motion to Suppress is denied, cases can still settle before trial under terms that you can manage. Your attorney still has the opportunity to exploit factual differences and questionable elements that place your guilt in doubt.
Lance Daniel, Attorney at Law, has represented defendants in and around Sacramento, CA for over 25 years. Filing a motion to suppress in California is an option he understands well. If you want an experienced criminal attorney and feel your constitutional rights were violated, contact the office today to schedule a consultation.