How is evidence suppressed in court?

In order for evidence to be admissible against you in court, it must be relevant and competent.  Relevant means it must have something to do with the case.  It must tend to prove or disprove any fact at issue.  For example, drugs found in a search in a drug case would obviously be relevant.  Competent evidence means that it was legally obtained.

The California Penal Code (section 1538.5) is how evidence is suppressed if it was gathered by the police in an illegal search.  Every step of the police investigation is subject to being scrutinized.  If any stage is found to violate the Fourth Amendment, any subsequent evidence will be suppressed or thrown out.

Take, for example, a “typical” DUI investigation.  The police pull somebody over, investigate for DUI, have field sobriety tests done, then get a chemical test (breath test or blood sample).  Each stage of that investigation must be proper or the next step fails.  The police must have valid justification for the initial stop.  If the traffic stop is without proper legal authority, then any observations they make (including any odor of alcohol and the field sobriety tests) and any evidence they gather (the blood alcohol results) must be suppressed.

What if the initial stop is okay, but the detention period is too long?  Then it’s an illegal arrest and the evidence must be tossed out.  Improper arrest?  The subsequent testing is thrown out.

Change the scenario to any criminal investigation.  Every action by law enforcement must be proper.  The Constitution protects you against unreasonable searches and evidence seizure by the government.  As your attorney, I can run the appropriate motions to challenge the evidence the prosecution wants to use against you.  With my experience as a deputy district attorney, as well as an instructor at a police academy, I know what the proper police procedure is.  More importantly, I know when something’s wrong.  Contact me for a consultation about your case.

7 Trackbacks

  1. [...] of the car.  If they do search and find something more substantial, this may lead to an ability to suppress the evidence later.  This is especially true if you admit you were talking on it and hand them your phone if [...]

  2. [...] mind that an arrest or charges filed isn’t necessarily the end of the story.  There can be search issues, Miranda violations or other legal and factual defenses available to you that can only be [...]

  3. [...] How is evidence suppressed in court? [...]

  4. Robbery – Orange County defense lawyer - January 18, 2011 at 8:23 pm

    [...] case is unique and robbery charges, like any others, can be beat.  Improper police procedures, illegal searches and Miranda violations may lead to suppression of evidence.  Eyewitness identifications can be [...]

  5. [...] of the car.  If they do search and find something more substantial, this may lead to an ability to suppress the evidence later.  This is especially true if you admit you were talking on it and hand them your phone if [...]

  6. [...] without your consent, especially if they do a full search without justification, we may be able to suppress evidence they want to use against [...]

  7. Stages of a Criminal Trial - February 24, 2011 at 4:52 pm

    [...] Suppression motions – there can be motions to suppress evidence based on an illegal search. One can be filed and heard during the preliminary hearing in a felony or at any time before trial in a misdemeanor. If the judge rules that the evidence was unlawfully obtained, it gets excluded. Depending on the case, the suppression of evidence can entirely destroy the DA’s case against you. For example, in a drug possession case, if the drugs were seized by the police illegally and excluded, how in the world can they prove you had drugs if they can’t use them against you? [...]

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