Motion To Suppress Evidence PC 1538.5

In a U.S. court of law, adherence to lawful evidence collection must be followed by all parties. If you feel that law enforcement has broken the law in attempting to get an easy conviction, we are here to help. Contact Gressley and Donaldson. Our criminal defense attorneys will diligently suppress evidence that does not meet the rules of evidence.

The U.S. Constitution, above all other documents, is the most essential document to American democracy. The Fourth Amendment in particular is the reason why law enforcement officers are unable to arrest anyone at will just because they feel like it. It also protects American citizens from being illegally searched, monitored, and having their personal possessions confiscated from them.

Unfortunately, our law firm has seen countless violations of constitutional standards, either in situations where the police enter a home without a warrant, confiscate evidence that they had no legal access to, or violate the terms of the warrant itself. When this happens and the defendant is facing criminal charges, our firm will file a motion to suppress evidence 1538.5 on behalf of our client, and in doing so, we can increase the chances of a more balanced legal proceeding.

Think your Fourth Amendment rights have been violated? Do you need help with filing a motion to suppress evidence or legal representation for a suppression hearing? Call Gressley & Donaldson today for a consultation.

Definition of motion to suppress evidence – Penal Code 1538.5

A motion to suppress evidence (or “suppression motion”) pursuant to California Penal Code section 1538.5 is a legal request made by a defendant in a criminal case to exclude or suppress certain evidence from being presented at trial. Penal Code 1538.5 is a California law that governs the procedure for challenging the legality of searches and seizures conducted by law enforcement.

When a person believes that their Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable searches and seizures have been violated, they can file a motion to suppress evidence. This motion asserts that the evidence was obtained illegally or in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights. The Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures, and evidence obtained in violation of these rights may be deemed inadmissible in court.

The process typically involves a hearing where the defense presents arguments and evidence to support the claim that the evidence should be suppressed. The defense has the burden of proof for the motion. The prosecution has the opportunity to respond, and the court then determines whether the evidence should be excluded from the trial.

If the court grants the motion, the suppressed evidence cannot be used against the defendant in the trial, potentially weakening the prosecution’s case. However, if the motion is denied, the evidence remains admissible, and it can be presented during the trial.

Your Right To Privacy

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The key to successfully filing a motion to suppress evidence is understanding what rights law enforcement does and doesn’t have in terms of search and seizure. Generally speaking, the Fourth Amendment gives all American citizens the right to privacy when it concerns areas where privacy is reasonably expected by the general population. This not only bars a police officer from entering your home without a warrant but it also protects you from:

  • Being recorded in a public restroom
  • Having your cellphone tapped
  • Having your location monitored by the use of geolocation
  • Having your car searched
  • Having your purse, wallet, backpack, or other belongings seized

It’s worth saying that while you hold the right to privacy concerning private areas or possessions when a crime has not been committed, you may lose this right if a search warrant has been obtained, or in certain situations, if the police suspect that a crime has been committed.

For example, let’s say that a police officer pulls Steve over for speeding but notices that an open beer bottle is sitting in the drink holder. Because the police officer now has probable cause for Steve’s drinking and driving, the officer can now legally search Steve’s car for other paraphernalia and arrest Steve with a DUI.

However, let’s say that the police officer thought that Steve simply looked suspicious and was following him, anticipating that Steve would eventually break the law. The police officer follows Steve to a parking lot where Steve parks his car and enters a department store. The police officer looks into the window of the car and still sees nothing, so he decides to open the car door and check the glove compartment finding a bag of cocaine.

In this situation, the police officer is violating Steve’s right to privacy through an illegal search and if arrested, Steve’s criminal defense attorney would be able to file a motion to suppress evidence which would likely be granted.

Fruit Of The Poisonous Tree

The right to privacy not only protects an individual from being searched unlawfully, but it also protects them from any evidence initially obtained by an illegal search, even when law enforcement goes through the proper avenues following an illegal search. This is known as the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine. There are four main exceptions to this doctrine:

  • The evidence was discovered in part as a result of an independent, untainted source
  • The evidence would inevitably have been discovered despite the tainted source
  • The chain of causation between the illegal action and the tainted evidence is too attenuated
  • The search warrant was not found to be valid based on probable cause but was executed by government agents in good faith (called the good-faith exception)

As an example, let’s say that a detective is actively following a suspect who is talking on the phone with an alleged co-conspirator in a murder case. He picks up some information from the conversation but suspecting that he’s being followed, the suspect enters a public bathroom stall for privacy.

Desperate for information, the detective stealthily enters the bathroom and overhears the suspect telling the alleged co-conspirator that he has the murder weapon hidden in his garage. The detective then obtains a search warrant for the suspect’s garage and finds the murder weapon.

In this situation, even though the detective obtained a legal search warrant, the discovery of evidence took place in a location where the suspect had a reasonable expectation of privacy, and since no search warrants existed prior to the discovery, the murder weapon would likely be inadmissible because of the Fruit of The Poisonous Tree Doctrine. However, if the conversation had taken place in a gas station or public park, or the detective had obtained a search warrant to monitor the suspect’s phone calls, the evidence would likely be admissible.

Grounds For Filing A Motion To Suppress

There are two main grounds for filing a motion to suppress evidence – if the prosecution didn’t have a warrant and proceeded with a search and seizure anyway, or if the prosecution had a warrant but failed to execute it lawfully.

Unreasonable Warrantless Search

A motion to suppress evidence PC 1538.5 can be filed on the grounds of an unreasonable warrantless search when law enforcement conducts a search without obtaining a search warrant or without a valid exception to the warrant requirement. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures, emphasizing the importance of obtaining a warrant based on probable cause.

If law enforcement conducts a search without a warrant and fails to meet the criteria for a recognized exception, such as exigent circumstances or consent, the defendant may file a motion to suppress. The argument typically revolves around the violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights and the unlawfulness of the evidence obtained through the unauthorized search.

Unreasonable Search With Warrant

Even when law enforcement obtains a search warrant, a motion to suppress evidence can be filed if the search conducted under the warrant is deemed unreasonable. This may occur when the warrant lacks the necessary specificity, or if law enforcement exceeds the scope of the authorized search.

A search warrant must clearly describe the place to be searched and the items or individuals to be seized, ensuring that law enforcement is limited to a reasonable search within those parameters. If the warrant is overly broad or lacks specificity, the defendant can challenge the validity of the search by filing a motion to suppress.

Additionally, if law enforcement goes beyond the authorized scope of the search, any evidence obtained during that portion of the search may be subject to suppression. This process serves to safeguard individuals’ Fourth Amendment rights and maintain the integrity of the legal search and seizure process.

What happens at a motion to suppress evidence hearing?

The procedures at a motion to suppress evidence hearing are generally similar for misdemeanor and felony charges, as both involve the defendant seeking to exclude certain evidence from being used in their trial. Here’s an overview of what typically happens at these hearings:

Misdemeanor Charges

In the case of misdemeanor charges, our law firm will file a motion to suppress evidence during your arraignment to present our arguments and evidence to support the claim that certain evidence should be excluded from your case. This will take place before a jury is sworn in.

The prosecution next has the opportunity to respond, presenting its arguments and evidence to justify the legality of the search and the admissibility of the evidence. The court will conduct a hearing where both sides can present witnesses, cross-examine opposing witnesses, and make legal arguments. The judge will then evaluate the evidence and legal arguments to determine whether the evidence in question should be suppressed.

Felony Charges

For felony charges, the process is similar to misdemeanor cases. Our legal team will start by filing a motion to suppress evidence PC 1538.5, initiating either a suppression hearing where both sides present their case or an immediate ruling by the judge in the preliminary hearing. If the judge denies our motion in the preliminary hearing, we will still have an opportunity to make our arguments in a suppression hearing.

Another significant difference between a motion to suppress in misdemeanor and felony charges lies in the potential severity of the charges and the significance of the evidence in question.

Given the serious nature of felony charges, the outcome of a suppression hearing can have a substantial impact on the trial’s overall outcome. The legal standards and arguments presented may be more complex due to the gravity of the charges involved.

Suppression Hearings

Suppression hearings, whether for misdemeanor or felony charges, focus on the legality of the search and seizure that led to the evidence in question. The defense typically argues that law enforcement violated the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights, either through an unreasonable search without a warrant or by exceeding the scope of a valid warrant.

The prosecution counters by presenting evidence and legal arguments to justify the lawfulness of the search. The judge ultimately decides whether the evidence should be suppressed based on the presented arguments and the applicable legal standards.

One unique aspect of a suppression hearing is the ability to submit hearsay as evidence. Normally, hearsay is not qualified to be used as evidence during normal court proceedings, but because Fourth Amendment violations can substantially alter the outcomes of a criminal trial, a judge may allow our defense team to submit third-party information on your behalf.

Another thing to keep in mind is that if our law firm learns about evidence illegally obtained by the prosecution after a trial has begun, we will still have the opportunity to file the motion even though filing a motion to suppress is typically only allowed to happen in the pretrial stage.

Suppression Hearings in DUI Cases

Suppression motions are a powerful tool to defend DUI cases. The reason for this is that DUI cases involve a number of warrantless searches and seizures. Police officers often indicate their probable cause to pull over a suspected DUI driver is for some alleged traffic infraction, such as speeding or failing to maintain a lane. Police officers vehicles often have dash camera videos, which should depict your driving behavior prior to being pulled over by the police officer. Often, the supposed probable cause the police officers indicate justified them pulling you over is not supported by the video evidence. A judge may find no such probable cause existed, which can lead the judge to suppress evidence obtained after being stopped without probable cause.

Additionally, a number warrantless searches often occur in DUI cases. These can include searches of your vehicle, and the administration of breath tests and blood tests. Warrantless searches for a DUI suspect’s blood are particularly important to challenge as an unreasonable search, and the basis for such a challenge generally involves challenging the legality of any supposed consent to the warrantless search, and whether such a search complied with the constitutional standards of the Fourth Amendment. Under the Fourth Amendment, blood tests must be conducted in accordance with accepted medical practices. This means that police officers cannot subject you to an unnecessary risk of pain or infection when performing a search of your blood. Blood is often taken from suspected DUI drivers in horrific conditions that unnecessarily expose them to the risk of pain or infection.

Criminal defense lawyers handling DUI cases should be familiar with the Fourth Amendment challenges to DUI cases using California Penal Code section 1538.5. These suppression motions are valuable tools in defending your constitutional rights under the Fourth Amendment.

What are the potential results of a motion to suppress hearing?

The results of a motion to suppress evidence PC 1538.5 lie entirely with the decision made by the judge who reviews the motion. Whether the decision is made in a suppression hearing or during the pretrial, the judge will either grant the motion (fully or in part) or deny the motion.

When A Motion To Suppress Is Granted

If a motion to suppress evidence PC 1538.5, it means that the court has determined that the evidence in question was obtained illegally or in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights. As a result, the suppressed evidence cannot be used against the defendant in the trial. This outcome can significantly impact the prosecution’s case, as the excluded evidence may have been crucial to proving the charges. In some cases, the suppression of key evidence might lead to the dismissal of charges entirely if the remaining evidence is insufficient to support a conviction.

When A Motion to Suppress Is Granted In Part

When a motion to suppress is granted in part, it means that the court has determined that certain pieces of evidence were obtained unlawfully, while others may still be admissible. In this scenario, the court carefully evaluates each piece of evidence and decides whether it should be suppressed or allowed in the trial.

The impact on the case will depend on the significance of the evidence that is suppressed. The prosecution may need to adjust its strategy based on the admissible evidence, and the trial may proceed with the remaining admissible evidence.

When A Motion To Suppress Is Denied

If a motion to suppress is denied, it means that the court has determined that the evidence was lawfully obtained and can be presented at trial. The prosecution can use the evidence to support its case and the trial proceeds as planned.

The denial of a motion to suppress strengthens the prosecution’s position, as the court has found that the search and seizure were conducted in accordance with the law and did not violate the defendant’s constitutional rights. The evidence in question remains admissible, and the trial continues with all relevant evidence presented to the jury or judge.

Get help with a motion to suppress from a qualified lawyer

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Whether you have questions concerning what rights you have when interacting with law enforcement, or you need help filing a motion to suppress evidence PC 1538.5, our team of criminal defense lawyers has the skills and resources to make sure you have a fair chance when it’s time to appear in court. Contact Gressley and Donaldson for a consultation and we’ll help you through the process.

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