Have you been charged with crimes based on incriminating evidence in McAllen, Texas? You might feel hopeless. But as experienced criminal defense attorneys know, sometimes the evidence is not valid to be used against you. Just because police have evidence doesn’t mean that they had the right to obtain that evidence, or that the court has the right to use it against you.
To use evidence against you, the police must have a search warrant. It’s actually quite common for police to make a search without a warrant. If you believe the evidence was obtained unlawfully, you have the option to file a motion to suppress.
What is a Motion to Suppress?
Nolo defines a motion to suppress evidence as a request made by a defendant for the judge to exclude certain evidence from trial. The defense often makes this motion well in advance of trial, and if the defendant wins it, the prosecution or judge may have to dismiss the case. Motions to suppress evidence are most common in Fourth Amendment and search-and-seizure cases, according to Nolo.
Motions to suppress are based on the “exclusionary rule,” which acts to prevent the government from using evidence gathered illegally. While normally the exclusionary rule protects the Fourth Amendment, the rule may also be triggered by police violations of the Fifth or Sixth Amendment, according to FindLaw.
According to law, there are only five types of exceptional situations where a warrantless search is acceptable:
- With the occupant’s consent
- Incident to lawful arrest
- With probable cause to search but with exigent circumstances
- In hot pursuit
- Pursuant to a stop and frisk.
When You Might Be Able to Use a Motion to Suppress
Each case is unique, and there are numerous potential situations where evidence used against you is not lawfully valid for use. FindLaw reports some of the most common situations where a criminal defense attorney can help defendants file a motion to suppress:
- Unlawful Search and Seizure: The Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful search and seizure applies to many situations involving police officers, including routine traffic stops and visits to your home. With some important exceptions, police must have a valid search warrant, a valid arrest warrant, or probable cause that a crime has been committed in order to search for and gather evidence.
- Failure to Read Miranda Rights: The law requires that officers read “Miranda rights” to a suspect in custody prior to their questioning or interrogation. These rights inform the suspect that they have the right to remain silent, that anything they say may be used against them in court, and that they have the right to an attorney. If the suspect hasn’t been “read their rights,” confessions or statements made after the arrest may not be admissible.
- Chain of Custody Errors: The “chain of custody” refers to the documentation and proper care of evidence, from its seizure by police to its presentation at trial. If the chain of custody is broken, the evidence may lack credibility and could be deemed inadmissible. For example, a woman involved in a car crash has her blood drawn (with a warrant) to see if she was intoxicated while driving. But the police mislabel or mix up the blood evidence with others at the lab. This evidence may be suppressed because the chain of custody was improper.
If the Evidence Suppressed, Does That Mean the Cases Is Over?
No. It’s important to remember that the police may have other evidence. If the evidence that is suppressed is not crucial, it is still possible for the police and prosecutor to go forward with the case, says LegalMatch. You’ll need to talk with your attorney about what other evidence the police might have, and how to prevent it from being used against you.
How Can You Get the Help You Need?
There are countless examples of cases were skilled criminal defense attorneys helped their clients prevent evidence from being used against them. A criminal defense attorney can help discover ways that the law contradicts the methods or circumstances under which police sometimes discover evidence.
Incriminating evidence can’t be used against you unless it was lawfully obtained. If you’re being charged with crimes based on potentially invalid evidence, you might be able to fight back with a motion to suppress. If you’re facing criminal charges in McAllen, Texas, don’t give up! We can help! Get started by calling (956) 261-5609 or by sending a message online.
4016 N. 22nd Street
McAllen, Texas 78504
Phone: (956) 261-5609
Phone: (512) 900-1126