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What Is a Motion to Suppress Evidence?

A motion to suppress evidence may be requested in a criminal case if evidence was obtained through an illegal search.
A motion to suppress evidence may be sought in court by an attorney if evidence was recovered by police as the result of illegal questioning.
Evidence cannot be presented during a trial if a motion to supress is granted.
In the US, the Fourth Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights, guards against unreasonable searches and seizures.
If a motion to suppress evidence is granted, a judge cannot use the evidence to make a decision about a case.
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  • Written By: Alexis W.
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
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  • Last Modified Date: 25 July 2014
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A motion to suppress evidence is a formal, legal tool that an attorney or pro se litigant can use in a trial. It is a legal request submitted to the judge of the case, requesting that certain evidence be excluded from consideration in determining the outcome of a trial. A motion to suppress can be requested in a criminal or civil case.

In the United States, the legal system weighs each person's constitutional right to privacy against the public interest in prosecuting crimes and enforcing public laws. Various rules and constitutional rights are in place to protect citizens' privacy and to prevent unlawful investigations. If a law enforcement organization violates one of these privacy laws and rules, evidence is considered to be improperly collected. When evidence is improperly obtained, such as through an illegal search, an attorney can file a motion to suppress that illegally obtained evidence. If the attorney can prove that the evidence was not obtained through lawful means, the judge must grant the motion.

The laws designed to protect an individual's privacy include the Fourth Amendment, which protects against unreasonable search and seizure, meaning that a person and his property cannot be searched without reasonable cause. Generally, a warrant is required, unless illegal items are in plain sight or the police or law enforcement personnel witness a crime being committed.

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The Fifth Amendment is also designed to protect a person's privacy. It guarantees a person the right to remain silent, and the right to avoid self incrimination. Under a Supreme Court case called Miranda v. Arizona, the police must inform a suspected criminal of this right — as well as of his right to an attorney — before questioning.

In the justice system, any additional evidence that police recover as the result of an illegal search or illegal questioning is also inadmissible. This evidence is considered "fruit of the poison tree." For example, if the police recover a gun only because the criminal told them where the gun is during the course of an illegally obtained confession, the gun is also improperly obtained evidence and can be suppressed.

When a motion to suppress evidence is granted, neither the judge nor the jury can make a decision about the case based on the suppressed evidence. The evidence is not allowed to be presented at trial at all. If the prosecutor cannot make a case without the illegally obtained evidence, the accused criminal may be acquitted.

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Discuss this Article

anon298340
Post 8

Where online can I find forms to print out for an Illinois motion in limine, motion for new counsel and motion for post-sentence relief?

skottyb601
Post 7

I'd like to ask what forms need to be filled out to send to a judge? My son was arrested for supposedly selling drugs to an undercover cop, not once but twice. He's in county jail right now and has been there for four months. His court appointed attorney has yet to visit him one time. His case keeps getting court dates, and all have had "Pass Slips" on all of them.

From my understanding, my son's girlfriend has talked to another attorney, and he says that there isn't sufficient evidence against him. My son keeps asking me if I could file a "Motion to Discover Evidence," a "Motion to Suppress Evidence," "Motion to a Speedy Trial" and "Motion to Quash Enhancement". I understand none of this.

Can someone give me some kind of information? To my knowledge, the selling to an undercover cop is false because he was out of town at the time it was supposed to have happened.

anon283854
Post 6

The police told my son that his plates belonged to someone they were looking for for skipping out on court dates. This was wrong because I went with my son to get the plates at the DMV and put them on myself. The police were mistaken, or it was a bluff.

They asked my son to allow a search of his car. He said no. So they held him because he was 'nervous' acting. No kidding. My son has schizoaffective and bipolar disorders, and has occasional panic attacks. Police make him very nervous. He did well to hold it together during this ordeal.

About 20 minutes later the K-9 unit arrived, and the dog barked. They searched and found a small amount of marijuana. They gave him a minor misdemeanor ticket. But the search still seemed illegal.

anon277540
Post 5

I wonder, what type of “illegal” evidence is actually allowed to be presented in court?

anon270065
Post 4

Well written and better explained than in my text book. It did not take two chapters to get the answer I was looking for. I loved the fact that it was short and simple and to the point and used plain english.

yournamehere
Post 3

What exactly is a motion affidavit as it relates to suppressing trial evidence? I saw that on a website that also offered motion to suppress evidence forms, but I didn't know if I needed to fill out a motion to suppress evidence form and a motion affidavit, or if I was ok with just one.

Thanks!

EarlyForest
Post 2

Did you know that there are actually a lot of things that you can file for a motion to suppress with a DUI?

For example, you can file a motion to suppress evidence on the grounds that you were stopped unconstitutionally, or on the grounds that there was an unconstitutional search and seizure.

Also, be sure to seek a judgment motion if the police failed to read you your Miranda rights when they should have -- that can really help you out in a case like this.

zenmaster
Post 1

Can somebody give me a good motion to suppress evidence example? My daughter is asking me all these questions about criminal defense law for her civics class, and not being a criminal law attorney, there's only so much I can do.

Can you give me a sample of a motion to supress evidence, or at least a clear example?

Thank!

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