Evidence is a crucial part of any criminal case. It helps ascertain the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt needed for a conviction. However, in the interests of justice, not all evidence is admissible in court.
When evidence does not meet a certain legal threshold, the court may exclude it from the trial through a motion to suppress evidence. As a result, the suppressed evidence will not be part of your trial.
When can this happen?
Usually, the court may suppress evidence if your constitutional rights were violated when acquiring it. This can happen in several instances, as outlined below:
- The police obtained the evidence through an unlawful search and seizure. Although there are some deviations, the police need a valid search warrant or probable cause that a crime has been committed for them to search a person or their property. Otherwise, it could be an illegal search.
- There were chain of custody errors. If the police did not handle your evidence as required by law, it could lose its credibility before the court. This can happen when there is a mix-up or the evidence was destroyed under police custody.
- You were not informed of your legal rights. When the police do not inform you of your Miranda rights or prevent you from exercising them when you are under lawful custody, the evidence they obtain from you could be inadmissible in court.
When the court suppresses key evidence, it could affect the direction of your case and boost your chances of a favorable outcome. However, there may be legal technicalities involved.
Protecting your legal rights
Knowing whether evidence can be suppressed or not is a complicated affair. In addition, certain exceptions exist that could overrule some of the above scenarios and make the evidence admissible even when it does not seem so.
Therefore, it is advisable that you get an informed evaluation of the legality of the evidence against you when preparing your defense.