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Suppression Archives

Probable cause and suppression motions

Suppression motions may be filed by lawyers to keep evidence out of court.  Probable cause to arrest exists when the facts and circumstances within the police officer's knowledge and of which the officer has reasonable trustworthy information are sufficient in themselves to warrant a person of reasonable in the belief that an offense has been committed by the person to be arrested.  If there is no probable cause to arrest then suppression motions may be filed by the defense. miranda rights According to the Pennsylvania Superior Court, "Probable cause justifying a warrantless arrest is determined by the "totality of the circumstances." Accordingly, PA courts consider a number of factors when considering whether or not a police officer was justified in arresting a criminal defendant. The main point is that a police officer must have probable cause that an accused committed a crime if he wishes to arrest him. If the officer arrests an accused when he does not possess probable cause, then the arrest and any evidence seized from the accused as a result of the unconstitutional arrest is not admissible in court and a judge and a jury cannot consider it as evidence against an accused. Make sure to contact an experienced Chester County Criminal lawyer if you believe that you have been arrested without a basis.

Suppression Spoilation of Evidence

Suppression Motion may be filed by defense attorneys in order to keep out evidence.  One type of suppression motion deals with the Spoilation of evidence which deals with the intentional or unintentional destruction of evidence by the government-typically the police. Under Pennsylvania state law, police investigators are not required to keep rough notes from their investigation. This rule differs from Federal Law and the Jencks Act, know your Miranda rights where federal investigators are required to keep much more information that they obtain as a result of their investigations. Currently, in Pennsylvania there is no rule that the police preserve all evidence taken or all notes ever taken during their investigation because there might be some evidence which turns out to be exculpatory (tending to show that the defendant is innocent).

Suppression Motions stop-and-frisk

The United States Constitution protects the citizens of the United States against unreasonable searches and seizures via Suppression Motions. Although the Fourth Amendment mentions the need for a warrant in order to perform a search, under certain circumstances a warrant is not required. An attorney may file Suppression Motions to try and keep out evidence.  One of these circumstances is regarding the stop-and-frisk law. The stop-and-frisk law,  Miranda Rights under the Fourth Amendment, does not require that a police officer acquires a warrant before performing a stop-and-frisk. By giving police officers the power to stop-and-frisk, they are able to deter crime by catching potential criminals before the commission of a crime has even occurred. The purpose of the stop-and-frisk law is to keep officers safe and to deter crime.

Suppression Motions: seizure

One of the primary issues in Suppression Motions is whether the police action against the defendant constitutes a seizure.  If a seizure occurs, then a court should grant a defendant's suppression motion and exclude evidence seized by the police.  The threshold issue for this Court to determine is whether the encounter rose to the level of a seizure. A seizure has legally occurred when an officer, by means of physical force or show of authority, has restrained the liberty of an individual. Id at 623. "To decide whether a seizure has occurred, a court must consider all the circumstances surrounding the encounter to determine whether the police conduct would have communicated to a reasonable person that the person was not free to decline the officers' requests or otherwise terminate the encounter. Stated differently, we ask whether a reasonable person, innocent of any crime, would have thought he was being restrained if he had been in the defendant's shoes." Important circumstances to consider include, but are not limited to, the following: the number of officers present during the interaction;  Miranda Rights whether the officer informs the citizen they are suspected of criminal activity; the officer's demeanor and tone of voice; the location and timing of the interaction; the visible presence of weapons on the officer; and the questions asked.

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.

Suppression Issues: Rights of state Parolees on supervision

An interesting Suppression issue under the law is what are the rights of people who are on state parole to be free of search and seizures under the 4th amendment from their parole agents? Miranda Rights  Generally speaking, if the police want to enter someone's home, they must have the consent of the owner of the home or a search warrant permitting them entry into the house in order to search for contraband. (If they do not do this then their is a Suppression issue raised whereby the Defendant may have the fruits of the search suppressed).  However, an individual on state parole does not have as much of a privacy right from searches made by his parole agents. And generally, parole agents can enter their parolee's homes and search their homes so long as they satisfy a fairly low legal standard.

Suppression issues: What are Exigent Circumstances?

Suppression of evidence means that the evidence is not allowed in court.  In search and seizure cases, there is one Suppression issue that arises with great frequency, and that is, when do the police not need a search warrant to enter and search my home. In this blog, we will be exploring various circumstances when the police do not need a search warrant to enter your home.  read about drug crimes Almost all of these instances involve something called exigent circumstances. Exigent circumstances are circumstances where there is something going on in the case such that the police are not required to get a search warrant. Examples of this are the destruction of evidence, safety of other people or the police are engaged in a hot pursuit of an accused.

Pennsylvania law regarding suppressing search warrants based on anonymous tips

As stated in previous blogs, Pennsylvania and federal courts disfavor applications for search warrants based on information obtained from anonymous sources.  The reason the Courts disfavor these search warrants is because there is no inherent reliability in information obtained from anonymous sources.  If the police no the person providing the information or the person provides his name and contact information, there is some inherent reliability to that because that person potentially subjects himself to penalties for false report to law enforcement.

United States Supreme Court rules that searches of cell phones incident to arrest are unconstitutional

The United States Supreme Court recently issued a ruling holding that police are NOT permitted to search a person's cell phone incident to an arrest absent a warrant or a separate exigent circumstance.

Pennsylvania Supreme Court Overturns Warrant Requirement for Vehicle Searches

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court has recently overturned hundreds of years of Pennsylvania Constitutional Law with its recent decision regarding the warrant requirement and vehicle searches.

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