In many criminal cases, it is appropriate for the Broward criminal defense attorney to file a motion to suppress evidence obtained by a law enforcement agency during its investigation of an alleged crime. The motion is a written request to the judge presiding over the case, which asks him or her to exclude certain evidence from consideration. If a defendant’s rights were violated, for example, it is inappropriate to consider the evidence obtained as a result.
Motions to suppress are based on the exclusionary rule, a legal rule that primarily exists only in the United States. This doctrine states that the evidence against the defendant should be excluded from consideration at a criminal trial if the police or other law enforcement agents did not legally obtain the evidence or statements. The law has become tougher on this issue over time, but the general rule is that “fruit of the poisonous tree” may not be used against a criminal defendant. That means that information or evidence that would not have been obtained but for a violation of the defendant’s rights cannot be used, because it is tainted -- or “poisoned” -- as a result of the violation.
Either the Fourth Amendment or the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States could be the basis for a motion to suppress. The Fourth Amendment is related to a citizen’s protection from illegal searches, which can include a person’s body, a vehicle, or even a home. The search does not have to be just a physical search of the vehicle’s contents, but could even be a motion to suppress the findings of an illegal traffic stop. For example, if a police officer pulls over a car without a valid reason and as a result finds evidence of criminal activity, his attorney can move to suppress the findings. If the court grants the motion to suppress, the driver’s identity or observations made by the officer could be suppressed. The evidence might be suppressed if the arresting officer found marijuana or other illegal drugs, whereas the identity of the car’s driver could be suppressed if he were driving with a suspended license.
A Fifth Amendment-based motion to suppress has to do with statements a defendant made prior to being read his or her Miranda rights. For instance, if someone is taken into custody and questioned about involvement in an alleged crime, but the interrogating police officer does not “Mirandize” the defendant, the statements may not be admissible in court. The context is important, however. Certain kinds of statements are still admissible, even if the Miranda rights were not read. Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney William Moore consults with clients to decide if motions to suppress are useful depending on the facts of individual cases.
Broward County criminal lawyer William R. Moore has years of experience in criminal defense, including sex crimes and DUI. A felony or misdemeanor conviction of any type can have far-reaching consequences on your freedom, your employment, and your personal life. If you have been arrested in south Florida, contact Broward County Criminal Defense Attorney William R. Moore, P.A., with offices in Fort Lauderdale-Dade, Broward, and Fort Lauderdale Counties.
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