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Suppression Motions: Police interaction with Defendants

Defendant's may challenge evidence that is seized by the police by filing a suppression motion.  A suppression motion can be used to suppress evidence that is seized as a result of police interaction with Defendants.  If Police interaction with defendants is too aggressive, then evidence should be suppressed.  It is undisputed that Pennsylvania case law recognizes three categories of interaction between police officers and citizens. Consent and the Police  Evidence seized during an arrest might have to be suppressed by the court, depending upon the type of interaction that the court finds took place between the accused and the police. The first type of interaction is a mere encounter, or request for information, which need not be supported by any level of suspicion by the police, however, this also carries no official compulsion for the accused to stop or to respond to the police. The second is an investigative detention, which must be supported by reasonable suspicion as it subjects a suspect to a stop and a period of detention, but does not involve such coercive conditions as to constitute the functional equivalent of an arrest; and (3) arrest or custodial detention, which must be supported by probable cause.

If the police action becomes too intrusive, a mere encounter may escalate into an investigatory stop or a seizure.

In determining whether a mere encounter has risen to the level of an investigative detention, Courts examine whether the individual in question has been seized. Miranda Rights  The true test that courts use in deciding whether a meeting with the police in an investigatory detention or a mere encounter is whether in the view of all surrounding circumstances, a reasonable person would believe that he was free to leave. If a reasonable person would not believe that he was free to leave, then the meeting with the police is an investigatory detention. If a reasonable person would believe that he was free to leave, then the meeting is a mere encounter.

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