Motion to Suppress in Georgia
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Author: Philip Kim, Founder, Philip Kim Law, P.C.
Defense lawyer Philip Kim has committed his career to standing up for the accused, and protecting the rights and reputations of his valued clients. If you face criminal charges in Georgia, we can provide you with the skilled, effective defense representation you need.
Published on March 20, 2023.
What Is a Motion to Suppress?
A motion to suppress excludes evidence violating the defendant’s constitutional rights. A motion to suppress is an important tool for protecting citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures under the Fourth Amendment. Typically, motions to suppress are filed before trials to prevent the admission of evidence in search and seizure cases.
An arresting officer must possess a valid search warrant or probable cause that a crime was committed to search for and collect evidence. Statutes protect defendants’ constitutional rights at both the federal and state levels. Therefore, a Georgia court can compel the state to abide by the rules that protect the defendant’s rights.
Defense counsel often use them in most DUI cases to compel a Georgia court to suppress all the evidence obtained against a defendant from the trial because the police officer lacked reasonable suspicion to make a traffic stop.
Suspension of Evidence: Reasons for it
If the motion to suppress is successful, the defendant will be better positioned to win at trial, have their case dismissed, or negotiate a reduced charge. However, if the motion is denied, the trial will continue.
There are several reasons why Georgia courts suppress evidence, including:
A failure to read your Miranda rights
Law enforcement officers conducting an unlawful search and seizure
An error in the written chain of custody
Arrest without probable cause
Obtaining a confession with physical force
Collecting unreliable evidence
Criminal defense lawyers in Lawrenceville, Georgia know that suppressing all or most flawed evidence in your criminal case can make or break your chances of being convicted or acquitted.
Most Common Situations in Which Motions to Suppress Are Filed?
Defense attorneys suppress the following types of evidence most frequently in Georgia:
Evidence from The Initial Traffic Stop
Police officers must have reasonable suspicion before pulling a driver over. In a DUI case, the officer’s suspicion will primarily arise from the driver’s behavior on the road, especially if the individual is driving erratically (running red lights and stop signs).
If a police officer pulls you over without reasonable suspicion, it is illegal, and the evidence collected can be suppressed.
Physical Evidence from Blood and Field Sobriety Tests
In most DUI cases, the prosecution often uses evidence of a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) above .08% to establish their case against the defendant. Such evidence is collected by law enforcement officers who conduct a field sobriety and blood test before a DUI arrest by collecting blood samples or using a breathalyzer device.
Additionally, the police officer and the prosecution must maintain a written chain of custody for all the evidence collected at the traffic stop.
A superior court lawyer can establish that the police officer broke the chain of custody, stored the blood evidence wrongly, or used a faulty breath-testing device. The submissions will prove that the test results were inaccurate, and the court must suppress the evidence.
Evidence From the Defendant’s Confession
If a police officer fails to read an individual their Miranda rights before questioning them, the prosecution will be unable to use the confession to prove their case.
Filing a Motion to Suppress in Georgia?
Filing a motion to suppress begins with the defendant’s attorney formally requesting the judge to discard illegal evidence. The request may be submitted orally in court or in written form, and the defense counsel must explain why the evidence should be dismissed.
In addition, the defense attorney may refer to previous cases where suppression motions have been granted under similar circumstances.
What Happens at a Motion to Suppress Hearing?
A motion to suppress hearing is usually conducted before a criminal trial begins. After the defense counsel files the motion, the judge will set a date and time for the hearing. Once the court has received the defense attorney’s filing, the prosecution will be allowed to file a response to the motion.
Most prosecutors will dispute the facts of the case outlined by the defense counsel to provide legal reasons for the evidence to be admitted. A mini-trial will be held alone in the judge’s presence, with no jury present.
The mini-trial will include the prosecution, defense attorney, and law enforcement officials who collected the evidence that is the subject of the motion to suppress. The burden of proof lies on the prosecution, who must show that the evidence was obtained without violating the defendant’s rights.
The hearing will begin with the prosecution’s witnesses, sworn under oath and cross-examined by the defense attorney. The prosecution will also cross-examine the witnesses of the defense. The court usually admits other types of evidence like documentary evidence, photographs, and video recordings related to the subject of the motion to suppress.
After cross-examination, the defense and prosecution will make oral arguments for the judge. The judge will then take some time to review the merits of both arguments before issuing a ruling. If the judge grants the motion, the prosecution will not be allowed to discuss the evidence in question with the judge or jury during the trial.
What Happens If Your Motion to Suppress is Denied in Georgia?
A judge may deny a motion to exclude evidence for several reasons, including:
That the evidence would have been discovered through legal means (Inevitable discovery)
That the officer acted in good faith
If the judge chooses to deny the motion, criminal lawyers in Lawrenceville, GA, can appeal the judge’s ruling by presenting the motion at a subsequent hearing. However, it would be limited to the hearing transcript and evidence that could not have been reasonably presented at the time.
Additionally, if the motion to suppress is denied, the defense attorney will be able to preview the evidence legally admissible at trial so that they may provide you with better advice.
Why Should You Contact Us?
Lawyers at Philip Kim Law understand that the timely filing of motions will create an effective defense that prevents the prosecution from using certain evidence against you at trial. With so much evidence suppressed, the prosecution may have no option but to drop the charges against you.
Our lawyers have in-depth knowledge of the DUI Court and police procedures. We will challenge the admissibility of the police reports to ensure that you achieve the best possible outcome in your criminal case.
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