Common questions asked by clients facing charges for possession of marijuana or controlled substances (drugs) concerns ways to suppress evidence from being heard at trial in order to avoid a conviction. While there are many different strategies and methods that we as criminal defense attorneys employ to defend all types of drug possession cases, when it comes to suppressing evidence the issue becomes whether or not the search for the drugs and any statements made by the accused were done legally.
This is done because your right to be treated fairly and in accordance with the laws and Constitution is central to the criminal justice system, this is generally known as your right to “due process”. If any of your rights are violated throughout the criminal process, the evidence against you might be suppressed and the charges against you could ultimately be dropped.
The Illegal Search
One of the more common situations leading to dropped charges is the invalidation or suppression of evidence due to an illegal search. If the evidence against you was seized in a manner that violated your rights, a pre-trial motion will seek to suppress that evidence, or keep it from being admitted at trial.
This right comes directly from the Fourth Amendment which originally enforced the notion that each person’s home is secure from unreasonable searches and seizures of property by the government. It protects against arbitrary arrests, and is the basis of the law regarding search warrants, stop-and-frisk, safety inspections, wiretaps, and other forms of surveillance, as well as being central to many other criminal law topics and to privacy law.
These concepts were designed to protect individual rights and to allow the citizens of this country to live without fear of a police state. If the police do not have probable cause or a warrant, they cannot search you, plain and simple. This and other variables could designate a search as illegal and your criminal defense lawyer can help you determine if, in fact, the police violated your rights during the search. The motion to suppress evidence will call these matters into question and the judge hearing the motion will have to examine the reasons and circumstances which led to the search.
In marijuana and controlled substance (drug) possession cases, the physical evidence is often the basis of the prosecutor’s case against you. Without it, their case may be significantly damaged. If they feel they cannot prove your guilt without the evidence, the charges may be dropped.
A similar strategy can be used in suppressing eyewitness testimony or even to suppress statements made by the defendant while under arrest.
The common example is if the police did not inform you of your right to an attorney or your right to remain silent, the statements you make when interviewed could be suppressed. Again, your rights are protected by the Constitution and any violations of these rights would be raised by your criminal defense attorney in a motion to suppress.
Just how such circumstances of how the statements were obtained may play into your case depends on the specifics of your situation. Although you might feel you were treated unfairly by the police, the laws are very specific on what is considered “fair”. It is a primary concern of any defense lawyer that their clients be treated fairly in a court of law and that their rights are protected as well. If there’s reason to believe the evidence against you was illegally obtained in any way you want to be able to trust that your attorney will do whatever’s possible to get that evidence suppressed.