Decorative Scales of Justice in the Courtroom

Motions to Suppress: Getting Evidence Excluded

Law Offices of Fisher Wise Jan. 26, 2023

If you’ve been charged with a crime, police, and prosecutors have assembled – in their minds – enough evidence to convict you, but not all evidence is necessarily admissible. If your Constitutional rights were violated in obtaining the evidence, your defense attorney can file a motion to suppress the evidence before the trial even begins. 

Two glaring examples of inadmissible evidence stem from violations of your 4th and 5th Amendment rights. The 4th Amendment protects you against illegal searches and seizures, and the 5th Amendment protects you against self-incrimination. 

A violation of your 4th Amendment rights could involve police who search you or your premises without probable cause, and when it comes to your premises, perhaps without even a search warrant. Say you’re just walking down the street and a police officer suspects you of possessing a controlled substance and frisks you. Indeed, you do have cocaine in your pocket. He hauls you in. However, did he have probable cause to suspect you? 

In the same instance, say the police officer takes you to the station where they begin interrogating you, but they don’t read you your Miranda Rights, which include the right to remain silent and seek the counsel of an attorney. Any evidence they obtain from their grilling will have violated your 5th Amendment rights since they didn’t read you the Miranda warning. 

These are just two examples of how evidence can be tainted and thus subject to a motion to suppress. The point is, if you have been charged with a crime, you need to obtain an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to review the evidence and file a motion to suppress when the evidence seems tainted. 

In or around Chattanooga, Tennessee, if you’re facing a criminal charge, contact me at the Law Offices of Fisher Wise. As your criminal defense attorney, I will examine the evidence that the prosecution intends to use against you and challenge anything that seems to have been obtained in violation of your rights or in an otherwise suspicious fashion.  

I also aggressively defend clients in Red Bank, East Ridge, Soddy-Daisy, and throughout the counties of Marion, Rhea, and Sequatchie, among others. 

What Is a Motion to Suppress? 

Rule 12 of Tennessee’s Rules of Criminal Procedure states that a “party may raise by pretrial motion any defense, objection, or request that the court can determine without a trial of the general issue.” It then lists, among other objections, “a motion to suppress evidence.” The motion should be submitted to the court during pretrial proceedings. If the judge grants the motion, then the prosecution cannot present that piece of evidence during the actual trial. 

Grounds for a Motion to Suppress 

In addition to the examples cited above involving violations of search and seizure and your right to remain silent, other situations may also warrant a motion to suppress. Among them are: 

  • UNLAWFUL OUT-OF-COURT IDENTIFICATION: If during a line-up or mugshot review of suspects, one of the officials presiding somehow suggests to the witness that you are the one, that would mean the identification was tainted. Even a seemingly off-hand remark like, “How about this one?” might influence the decision of the witness. The witness may also have a revenge motive for choosing you based on something other than your alleged crime. 

  • A BREAK IN THE CHAIN OF CUSTODY: Any physical evidence the prosecution intends to use against you must be safeguarded prior to the trial. This can be the case with a DNA or blood sample. If during the transfer of the sample, it is passed from person to person and its identity gets confused, it can be challenged for chain-of-custody issues. The same standards would apply to any weapon or substance found on your person.  

Filing a Motion to Suppress 

Your attorney, after reviewing the police report and evidence to be presented, can file a written motion to have the evidence suppressed. The presiding judge can then either immediately rule on the motion – whether or not to grant it – or call a hearing. At the hearing, the judge will hear the testimony of the witnesses and legal arguments from the attorneys. 

During the proceeding, your attorney can question the police officers involved in your arrest and challenge how they obtained the evidence being presented. If the motion is successful, then the prosecution cannot use that evidence during the trial. If prosecutors don’t have enough evidence after the suppression, they may drop one of the charges against you or even abandon the entire case. 

Protect Your Constitutional Rights 

As a criminal defense attorney with years of pretrial and trial experience, I will do everything in my power to get the charges against you reduced or even dropped.  

I will sift through all the evidence against you and move to suppress anything that is suspect or seems to have been obtained in violation of your rights. If we do go to trial, I will challenge the prosecution’s evidence and the testimony of any witnesses. I will consistently defend your rights and strive for the best result possible. 

If you’ve been charged with a crime in the greater Chattanooga area, contact me immediately at the Law Offices of Fisher Wise.