Featured News 2019 When Do Courts Suppress Evidence?

When Do Courts Suppress Evidence?

When a person is facing criminal charges, there is sometimes a considerable amount of evidence that might prove their guilt. However, sometimes this evidence is not allowed to be used in court to incriminate the person standing trial. In specific instances, a court may decide to suppress evidence. These are the reasons why evidence might be suppressed during a criminal trial.

The Exclusionary Rule

The exclusionary rule is a guideline that prevents the government from using evidence that was gathered illegally. This rule is commonly invoked when a person’s right to protection from unwarranted searches and seizures is violated. For example, if a person is facing criminal charges because they were caught with drugs through an unwarranted search, then a court cannot use this evidence to incriminate the defendant. Because of the exclusionary rule, a person can only be convicted of a crime using evidence that was legally obtained.

Failure to Read Miranda Rights to a Suspect

Unwarranted search and seizures are one of the most common reasons for the suppression of evidence. However, evidence may also be suppressed if a police officer fails to inform a suspect of their Miranda Rights. Miranda Rights inform a suspect of their right to an attorney and their right to remain silent until they receive legal counsel.

Coercion

In some instances, a person’s confession to committing a crime might not be enough to convict them of the very crime they admit to doing. A confession might be deemed as inadmissible evidence if the court believes a defendant was coerced by prosecutors, police, or others to confess to the crime. The Innocence Project has reveled how important recognizing a forced confession is. The organization has found that many clients proven innocent by DNA testing confessed to a crime that they did not commit during their trial.

The organization found false confessions to occur because of:

· Real or perceived intimidation from law enforcement

· Use of force during interrogation

· The fear of or a perceived use of force during interrogation

· Compromised reasoning of a suspect due to exhaustion, stress, hunger, and other factors

· Interrogation techniques designed to mislead suspects

· Fear that failing to confess will make a punishment more severe

Chain of Custody Error

A chain of custody error occurs when evidence is not properly documented or stored. If there is not a clear chain of custody for evidence, it might lack the credibility needed to be used as evidence before a court. For example, blood samples must be handled with scientific precision. If a blood sample is not properly cared for, it may be suppressed as evidence. A famous example of the chain of custody causing evidence to be dismissed occurred during the OJ Simpson murder trial. A critical sample of blood was improperly stored and was not able to be used as evidence.

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