Not all pieces of evidence presented to the court are legal to use, or admissible. Inadmissible evidence may be suppressed, or “thrown out” of consideration by the court. If you are facing a criminal charge, having inadmissible pieces of evidence suppressed can be very important to your criminal defense strategy. Talk to your lawyer about the pieces of evidence being used in your case to determine which, if any, may be inadmissible and suppressed.
Admissible evidence meets three requirements:
- It is reliable, which means that it comes from a credible source;
- It is relevant, meaning that it proves or disproves a fact about the case rather than simply existing alongside relevant evidence; and
- It is obtained through legal means.
Is the Evidence Reliable?
Evidence that comes from witnesses outside the court is known as hearsay. Basically, if a witness’ testimony amounts to “somebody told me this fact about the case,” that portion of the testimony is inadmissible.
Is the Evidence Relevant to your Case?
When a piece of evidence has nothing to do with the case at hand directly, it is irrelevant and inadmissible. For example, a piece of evidence used to demonstrate a character trait of the defendant’s is generally deemed to be irrelevant because the defendant is not on trial about his or her character, he or she is on trial to determine if he or she is guilty of a specific criminal offense. Other pieces of irrelevant evidence are those that mislead the jury by distracting them from relevant facts or pieces of evidence. For example, evidence that is meant to prejudice the jury may be thrown out.
Was the Evidence Obtained Illegally?
Sometimes, even reliable, relevant evidence must be suppressed because it was obtained illegally. The Fourth Amendment to the constitution protects citizens from unlawful search and seizure of their bodies and properties. A citizen does not have to consent to a search if the requesting officer does not have a valid search warrant. The Fifth Amendment grants citizens Miranda Rights, which means they can refrain from answering officers in ways that incriminate them. Obtaining evidence through a violation of either of these rights renders the evidence inadmissible.
You Must File a Motion to Have the Court Suppress the Inadmissible Evidence
To have a piece of inadmissible evidence suppressed in your case, you will need to file a motion with the court for the judge to consider. After you file your motion, the judge will consider your reasons for wanting to have the evidence suppressed and make a ruling about whether doing so is appropriate. If the judge chooses to suppress the evidence, it is no longer part of the case. If not, the evidence remains in play.
Reach Out to Us for Help
Do you need a criminal defense lawyer? Let us help you. Contact Robert R. Robles Attorney at Law today, either via our online form or by calling 405-232-7980.