When a person is charged with a crime, that person may not necessarily be convicted. The prosecutor must present evidence proving that the defendant is guilty beyond reasonable doubt before a judgement can be made. There are various reasons for evidence to be deemed inadmissible in court and thrown out or, in legal terms, suppressed. Getting evidence thrown out of court is one of the most effective ways for a defendant to have the charges reduced or even dismissed. If you are facing criminal charges and want to find out more about how to get evidence thrown out of court, consider contacting an experienced criminal defense attorney at Jason S. English Law, PLLC, by calling (512) 454-7548 to schedule a consultation.
What Does It Mean To Throw Out Evidence?
The Texas Rules of Evidence govern the admissibility of evidence in civil and criminal trials in Texas courts. For evidence to be admissible, it must be:
- Relevant—it is directly related to the crime
- Material—it proves a fact that is in dispute
- Competent—it was collected and handled in a lawful manner
To have evidence thrown out of court, a defense attorney must file a motion to suppress the evidence at a preliminary hearing. During this hearing, the attorney presents a valid case that indicates why the evidence lacks relevance or competence. A skilled Texas defense attorney understands how these rules can be used to get evidence thrown out of court, which can strengthen the defense's case and improve the defendant's chances of having the charges reduced or dismissed.
What Are the Possible Outcomes of a Motion To Suppress?
The significance of the evidence to prove the case will influence the possible outcomes of a motion to suppress. One possible outcome is that the specific piece of evidence is thrown out. While the case may still go to trial, the prosecutor's argument could be weakened by the removal of that piece of evidence. In some situations, a judge may rule that most or all of the evidence is inadmissible and must be suppressed. These cases may not be taken to trial at all. Instead, a plea bargain may be offered, or the charges may be dropped altogether.
What Types of Evidence Can Be Thrown Out?
Evidence that can be thrown out of court when the defendant files a motion to suppress includes the following:
- Physical evidence, such as a computer, documents, video footage, drugs, or a weapon
- Testimonial evidence, including oral or written statements made by the defendant or witnesses to the crime
- Test results, such as blood, breath, or urine samples taken from the defendant or DNA tests
How Can Evidence Be Suppressed?
There are several arguments that can be used to get evidence thrown out of court. These arguments are determined by the specific details and facts of the case. The defense may argue any of the following:
- The defendant's rights were violated
- Chain of custody rules were broken
- The evidence obtained is insufficient or incomplete
- The evidence is hearsay
The Defendant's Rights Were Violated
One of the most effective ways to get evidence suppressed is to prove that obtaining the evidence violated the defendant's Fourth or Fifth Amendment rights in some way. This may be proven on any of several grounds.
Lack of Probable Cause or Warrant for Arrest
An officer requires either probable cause or a warrant to legally arrest an individual. To have probable cause, an officer must have a reasonable basis to believe that a crime has been committed.
Unlawful Search or Seizure
An officer also requires either probable cause or a warrant to legally search an individual's personal property and to seize it as evidence. Searching and seizing personal property without probable cause or a warrant is considered illegal.
Failure To Read Miranda Rights
An individual's Miranda rights include his or her right to remain silent and to have an attorney. These rights must be read to a suspect before that suspect can be questioned. If an officer fails to read the Miranda rights correctly, any confessions or statements made may be considered inadmissible in court.
If an officer continues to question a suspect after he or she invokes Miranda rights and requests an attorney, or if law enforcement uses any threats or physical violence during the interrogation, the interaction would be considered an unlawful interrogation. Any statements or confessions made during the interrogation may then be inadmissible in court. If you believe that any of your Constitutional rights were violated, a skilled criminal defense attorney at Jason S. English Law, PLLC, may be able to help you learn more about how to get evidence thrown out of court.
Chain of Custody Rules Were Broken
Chain of custody rules are detailed procedures that must be followed to ensure that evidence is properly tested, handled, and stored and has not been tampered with in any way. These rules specifically apply to DNA evidence in criminal cases and blood, urine, or breath samples taken in DWI cases. If these procedures have not been followed correctly, or if evidence has been handled by a lab with a history of failing to follow procedures, the evidence may be deemed inadmissible in court because it lacks reliability.
The Evidence Obtained Is Insufficient or Incomplete
Physical evidence of a crime may include video footage, audio recordings, or written documents. If only a portion of an entire recording or document is provided as evidence, it may be possible to argue that important facts could have been excluded and that the evidence is, therefore, insufficient and should be thrown out unless it can be provided in its entirety.
The Evidence Is Hearsay
Hearsay is a statement made out of court to prove the truth of the matter in question. Hearsay evidence usually comes in the form of a statement from a witness claiming that someone else told them that they saw the defendant committing a crime. According to the Texas Rules of Evidence, hearsay is inadmissible in court. There are certain exclusions to this rule, however, and a knowledgeable attorney can help to determine whether hearsay may be grounds for getting evidence thrown out of court in a particular case.
Contact a Texas Defense Attorney for Help with Your Case Today
Successfully getting evidence thrown out of court through a motion to suppress can significantly weaken a prosecutor's argument and strengthen a defendant's case. Suppressing evidence requires careful review of the actions law enforcement officers took and the specifics of the case. If you are facing criminal or felony charges, consider consulting with an experienced criminal defense attorney at Jason S. English Law, PLLC, by calling (512) 454-7548 today to learn more about your legal rights and how to get evidence thrown out of court.