How to Get Evidence Suppressed in a Delaware Criminal Case
If you were charged with a crime and the evidence against you seems overwhelming, it is always important to remember that you still have rights. A violation of your civil liberties under the US Bill of Rights and parallel provisions of the Delaware Constitution could lead the information to be inadmissible in court. However, unlawfully obtained evidence is not automatically tossed out of court. You need to take action to have it suppressed, usually by filing a motion in court.
Constitutional issues and civil rights violations are always extremely complicated, so trust a Wilmington criminal attorney to determine how they apply in your case. In addition, you may find it helpful to review some answers to frequently asked questions about suppressing evidence.
What is the legal basis for suppressing evidence? In the US and Delaware criminal justice systems, civil rights violations are considered extremely serious. When police or prosecutors engage in unlawful conduct when collecting information, the law deems it such a gross miscarriage of justice that it should not be allowed in court. Instead, the exclusionary rule applies to make evidence inadmissible.
Why would a judge consider tossing evidence in a Delaware criminal case? The three most common reasons a judge would apply the exclusionary rule are:
- Unlawful search and seizure, when police do not have a search warrant, a warrant for your arrest, or probable cause to make an arrest;
- Failure to inform you of your rights under the landmark case of Miranda v. Arizona, such as remaining silent and retaining a lawyer; and,
- Errors with chain of custody, starting from the point that police seize evidence and continuing to the date that it is presented at trial.
Are there any exceptions to the exclusionary rule? There are some scenarios where the exclusionary rule does not apply. Therefore, evidence is admissible in court to prove criminal allegations under certain circumstances, such as:
- If police or detectives would have inevitably discovered the evidence without violating your civil rights;
- Where law enforcement has a good faith, reasonable belief that they are lawfully obtaining evidence; or,
- When an independent source, other than an investigating officer, turns the evidence over to police.
What happens to criminal charges if evidence is inadmissible? If successful in having evidence tossed out of court through a motion to suppress, the charges do NOT go away. A prosecutor can still go forward with a trial based upon evidence that is allowed. In some cases, that may be enough to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. However, there are other situations where the charges will be dismissed because the prosecution does not have enough to convict you.
Set Up a Consultation with an Experienced Delaware Criminal Defense Lawyer
For answers to additional questions about suppressing evidence in a criminal case, please contact Attorney Michael W. Modica to schedule a consultation. You can reach our Wilmington, DE office by calling 302.600.1262 or checking out our website. Our team can provide more information after reviewing your specific circumstances.