If evidence is improperly obtained it very rarely will be presented to the jury. This is because the system doesn’t trust that the members of the jury can hear evidence and not consider it when making a decision about the case.
But when is evidence obtained improperly? What evidence can or cannot be used in your Court case? And if evidence is improperly obtained, what can be done?
An attorney will be able to identify whether evidence against you has been obtained improperly, and take the steps to file a Motion to Suppress in situations where the evidence should not be considered by the Court. (This is why it’s so important to hire legal representation if you’re going to Court.)
Whether or not a piece of evidence can be considered in deciding the outcome of your case can be a game-changer. Let’s take a look at some examples.
Everyone Has a Fifth Amendment Right to Remain Silent
If you’re in custody, and if you’re interrogated by law enforcement, they have a duty to inform you of your Fifth Amendment right (“You have a right to remain silent. If you waive that right, anything you say can and will be used against you in a Court of law”).
Note that conditions apply to this right: you must be in custody, i.e., a reasonable person would not feel they are free to leave. If an officer arrives and asks, “What happened?” You’re not in custody, so he/she doesn’t have to inform you of your rights. Likewise, if you’re not interrogated while in custody and merely volunteer information, you don’t have to be informed of your rights.
I have certainly encountered DUI cases in which the DA’s case was weakened significantly when evidence was found to have been obtained improperly.
Here’s an example: Not too long ago I represented a student who had been pulled over for reckless driving. When the officer approached, my client became highly emotional and pushed the officer, which caused the officer to arrest him. After being handcuffed, the officer asked, “Have you been drinking?” My client answered that he’d had several shots.
However, the officer failed to notify him of his Fifth Amendment right to remain silent. As a result of this, I was able to get his admission of drinking suppressed, e.g., (held to be inadmissible), and our case was strengthened. Our argument was that, without his admission that he’d had several shots, the officer didn’t have probable cause to arrest him for an alcohol-related offense and require him to submit to a blood alcohol test. The police report didn’t indicate that my client had balance problems, slurred speech, or an odor of alcohol. The only reason he was arrested for DUI and required to take a blood alcohol test was because he admitted to drinking a substantial amount. However, he was not advised of his rights before he answered.
I was able to argue that my client’s statements about what he drank were inadmissible because he had been in custody, he was interrogated, and he wasn’t read his rights. The Court agreed and suppressed the statement. Without that statement, the Court found that there wasn’t probable cause to arrest him for DUI. Without that arrest, he was improperly coerced to take the blood alcohol test, and the test was also suppressed. At that time, I was able to negotiate with the DA to get a non-alcohol offer for my client.
Whether Evidence is Admitted is a Big Deal
Whether key evidence can be permitted in your case could potentially make a substantial difference in the outcome. When you work with an experienced attorney, he or she will make sure that you have the best possible chance of making a favorable deal with the DA.
If you are dealing with a criminal case in Boulder County, call our office today at 303-449-1873 to schedule a complimentary consultation and find out if Barre Sakol is the right representative for your case.