The law does not allow you to be prosecuted if the evidence against you was obtained illegally. By "illegally" I mean that the police did not have the right to search for and seize the alleged evidence against you.
The legal mechanism by which we challenge the constitutionality of a search and seizure is called a motion to suppress. What the accused, through his or her criminal defense attorney, is asking the court to do is to suppress, or exclude, certain pieces of evidence against the accused. If the motion is granted, then oftentimes the State must drop the charges because their evidence is gone.
Motions to suppress are very common in drug cases - possession-level, possession with intent to sell, and trafficking. That's because there is physical evidence in every one of those cases; the alleged contraband. And since there is a police encounter in every drug case, there is almost always a search and seizure issue.
A good attorney reviews and analyzes the evidence in a case to see what sort of constitutional attacks can be made against the evidence. Was there a traffic stop? A search warrant? Was it a consent search?
Each type of police encounter has its own unique set of caselaw that a good lawyer understands, and more importantly, how to use in defense of their client.
But physical evidence isn't the only thing that can be suppressed. Confessions may be suppressed if the accused was not read their Miranda rights, or the confession was elicited through coercive or threatening tactics by law enforcement.
In a DUI case, motions to suppress are common. You may file motions to suppress the breath test results, the roadside exercise results, statements made, or even the traffic stop itself.
Motions to suppress are not filed in every case, but a good criminal defense attorney should always be looking at what evidence could possibly be suppressed.
It's that keen legal eye that could spell the difference between a conviction and a dismissal of the charges.
Eric Matheny is a criminal lawyer practicing in Miami-Dade and Broward. Call today to discuss your case.