November 20, 2012

Suppression of Evidence

Suppression of Evidence for a criminal defense attorney is pivotal in some major cases. Evidence that the District Attorney has obtained such as a search warrant, wiretap, video, and photos all can be challenged for its admissibility. Evidence is suppressed when a judge decides that the evidence in question was illegally obtained. This is known as the “exclusionary rule.”

Tennessee Code 50-4-108; states the following for suppression of evidence,
(a) Any person aggrieved by an unlawful inspection of premises named in an administrative inspection warrant may in any judicial or administrative proceeding move to suppress any evidence or information received, or moves for the return of any item seized, by the agency pursuant to the inspection.
(b) If the court or the administrative agency finds that the inspection was unlawful, the evidence and information shall be suppressed and any item seized returned and not considered in the proceeding.
[Acts 1979, ch. 345, § 9; T.C.A., § 50-608.]

There are other types of evidence that you can have suppressed at trial also. The “fruits of the poisonous tree” doctrine states that additional evidence discovered as a result of illegally obtained evidence is excluded at trial. For example, if an officer illegally searches your car and finds your illegal drugs in it, the drugs cannot be used as evidence at trial. The illegal search is the “poisonous tree” and the illegal drugs are the “fruit.”

However, there are some exceptions in which evidence that was obtained illegally may be used in court.

These exceptions are:
•Inevitable discovery – this means that the police would have inevitably found the evidence, with or without the illegal search
•Independent source – the discover of the evidence involved a combination of legal and illegal means, but the evidence could have been discovered by a reliable source
•Good faith – the officers who discovered the evidence has no reason to believe their search was illegal (i.e., believed the search warrant to be valid when it was not)
•Attenuation – if the connection between the illegal search and the evidence is sufficiently weak, the evidence may be considered untainted.

If you have been the victim of an illegal search and seizure or have questions about evidence suppression contact Attorney Don Himmelberg for your free consultation.