In previous posts, we spoke about violations of constitutional rights during criminal investigations and remedies available to those subjected to police misconduct. As we noted, civil rights litigation is one remedy available in some cases, and suppression of evidence may be a possibility in criminal proceedings.
Suppression of evidence is a court-created remedy made available to defendants who have had their Fourth or Fifth Amendment rights violated during the course of a criminal investigation. In many cases, motions for suppression of evidence call into question the legality of a search or seizure, though other types of challenges are possible. When incriminating evidence is obtained as a result of an illegal search or seizure, it is important of a criminal defendant to work with an experienced attorney to explore whether or not their case could benefit from suppression of the evidence.
Besides challenging an illegal search or seizure, there are other bases for suppression of evidence. Another common one is the failure to inform a criminal suspect of his or her Miranda rights. Police are required to be straightforward in providing the Miranda warning, and when they don’t a defendant may be able to suppress incriminating evidence obtained as a result of that failure.
Another possible basis for suppression of evidence is that there were errors in the chain of custody, or the documentation and care of evidence seized by policy. This can happen, for example, in cases involving rape kit testing, if custody of the test is not properly tracked.
Not every case in which a criminal suspect’s rights are violated will result in suppression of evidence, since there are exceptions to the exclusionary rule. Because of this, it is important for criminal defendants to work with an experienced criminal defense attorney to ensure they build the best possible case.