In common law judicial system adopted by the United States of America (USA), the move to suppress evidence is a common practice among legal practitioners. The move takes a number of courses. In most cases, the motion entails the use of a written request before a judge in whose court the case is under trial.
The motion petitions the judge to restrain the prosecution from using specified pieces of evidence in proving their case. The basis for the exclusion of the evidence is provided for in the US Constitution (Samaha, 10). For the motions to succeed, the attorney representing the defendant must do various things.
For example, the attorney must prove beyond any reasonable doubt that the process used in acquiring the evidence failed to comply with the laid down rules and procedures.
The procedures used to collect evidence must adhere to the rules of evidence as indicated in the country’s constitution (Ingram, 37). It is, however, important to understand that there must be a law supporting the issue that the defense team has raised in order to suppress the evidence.
Motion to Suppress Evidence
First and foremost, the defense team would like to express its dissatisfaction with the manner in which the defendant was arrested. It is a fact that the police may have had reasons to believe that the defendant committed a felony following Jean’s statement.
However, the court should note that when Molly was brought in for questioning, it was made known to her that she was not under arrest. As a result of this assurance by the police, the defendant voluntarily accepted the officers to question her without the benefit of her lawyer’s presence (Scheb & Scheb, 7).
Following her statement to the police, the officers declared that Molly was under arrest and she was immediately taken to a cell. The police officers looking into the case arrested the defendant on baseless claims. Such claims are contrary to the guidelines put in place by the US constitution, which require the arresting officer to conduct a brief investigation prior to the arrest (Ingram, 37).
In this case, it is a fact that no investigations were done prior to the arrest of the defendant. She was unlawfully tricked into giving incriminating information despite her prior request to have a lawyer present during the questioning.
Having stated that the defendant was subjected to unlawful arrest, the defense would like to add that the interrogation conducted by the police was equally unlawful. The law states clearly that in the event an individual is seized under circumstances that violate their rights, any confession resulting from that arrest is inadmissible in a court of law.
The arresting officer should be aware of this provision in the constitution. When the rights of a person are violated during their arrest, the confession emanating from their interrogation is regarded by the law as the ‘fruit of a poisonous tree’ (Kyllo v. United States, 2001).
Other statements made by the defendant during such form of questioning should be considered as inadmissible in court. It is noted that the law states information that is illegally obtained from a suspect, but which was voluntarily given, may be admissible in court.
However, there is no evidence given by the prosecution to prove that the confession and the statements made by the defendant in this case were indeed given voluntarily and not through coercion. As a result of the unlawful arrest, the court should rule that Molly’s confession to check larceny charges is inadmissible before the law.
Secondly, the defense team concurs with the defendant on her innocence. It is clear that the bulk of evidence and charges leveled against her is, to say the least, unlawful. The defense will begin by stating that the manner in which the evidence was obtained from the defendant is unlawful in itself.
After the defendant was declared as under arrest by the police, officers approached her asking questions about the writing of bad checks. With regard to the confession made by the defendant, the prosecution, in their list of evidence, indicates that Molly agreed she had prior knowledge about the bank robbery. She was aware of the fact that there were parties planning to commit the felony.
According to the evidence tabled by the prosecution team before the court, it is noted that the defendant also confessed that she did commit check crimes. It is also on record that the defendant did not express the need for a lawyer during the second interrogation.
However, this notwithstanding, the arresting officers should not have gone ahead with the interrogation before providing the defendant with an attorney (Ingram, 23). In this case, it is the police officers who approached the defendant for further questioning.
The law is quite clear on the issue, stating that the police should not initiate further contact with a suspect until he or she is provided with an attorney. An exception to this rule is when the suspect expresses the wish to initiate contact with the police in the absence of a lawyer.
It is important to note that the Supreme Court states the police may initiate contact with the suspect. However, with regard to the current case, the court should note that the defendant did not confess to anything when she was arrested and put in police custody.
It was opportunistic for the police officers to approach the defendant for further questioning before the arrival of her lawyer (Samaha, 32). In this case, it is very difficult for the court to establish whether the confession made by the defendant was voluntary or forced. As a result, the evidence obtained is viewed as a result of unlawful sourcing of information and the court should regard it as inadmissible before the law (Ingram, 37).
The prosecution team may argue that the policemen were acting in good faith during the questioning. However, the officers should have restrained themselves and wait for the arrival of the defendant’s lawyer. For this reason and many others mentioned above, the court should treat the confession made by the defendant to check larceny charges as inadmissible in court.
The court should also consider the evidence surrounding the recovery of the stolen money in a storage shed as inadmissible under the law. The defendant claims that she had rented the storage shed in a neighboring town for the purposes of stashing away the money.
The police infringed on the rights of the defendant by conducting an unwarranted search in the storage shed. The USA federal constitution states that the police must obtain a search warrant before entering and searching a person’s home, car, or any other personal property (State v. Frazier, 2001).
Failure to comply with these guidelines renders the evidence gathered inadmissible before a court of law. That is why this court should review the evidence tabled by the prosecution team in a bid to secure a conviction.
The prosecution is trying to convince the court that the unwarranted search conducted on the defendant’s property was in good faith and that the police felt they had the authority to conduct a search on private property. However, this does not negate the fact that the act infringes on the rights of the defendant as provided for under the constitution (State v. Carter, 1988).
It is a fact not lost to the defense and to the prosecution that the law allows the police to conduct searches on private property without warrants in a number of cases. However, it is important to note that the situation at hand does not meet the threshold for such exemptions (Scheb & Scheb, 34).
The only exemption allowed for under the law with regard to conducting a search without a warrant involves cases where the police officers strongly believe that a crime has taken place. The police officers are also allowed to conduct a search without a warrant in cases where they strongly believe a crime is in progress or when the safety of officers and civilians is at risk.
Under such circumstances, the law recognizes that the police should take immediate action to arrest the situation. However, these exemptions do not apply in this case because the suspect was already in custody when the search was conducted. Under such circumstances, the defendant was not posing any threat to police officers or to other members of the society.
The other provision by the law that allows police to conduct a search on private property without a warrant is when there is a strong possibility that failure to take immediate action may lead to the destruction of evidence crucial to the case (State v. Frazier, 2001). By the time the police conducted the unwarranted search on the defendant’s storage shed, she was already in police custody.
Considering that she was in police custody, it is illogical to argue that she was in a position to destroy the evidence. The defendant was a suspect in a series of other larceny by check crimes, which the police was investigating. Given such a background, it is logical to argue that the police would have obtained a search warrant very easily (Scheb & Scheb, 34).
What this means is that the police had no plans to apply for a search warrant. To further support this application to suppress evidence, the defense team points out that the police had already acquired information on plans to rob a bank. The information was acquired from the confession made by the defendant, who, apparently, admitted that she had part of the money from the robbery in her storage shed.
With this information, the police would have easily acquired a search warrant from any court. Instead of applying for the warrant, the police went ahead and trespassed on the defendant’s property, infringing on her rights in the process.
The court should purge the handwriting sample provided by the prosecution, and which was acquired from the defendant, from the list of evidence against her. In this case, the court should treat the information provided by the defendant’s roommate as inadmissible.
It is a fact that Jean has lived with the defendant for some time. As such, she is aware of some of Molly’s qualities (Kyllo v. United States, 2001).
A strained relationship between the two roommates is a possible reason why Jean falsely testified against the defendant. It is likely that a form of trust develops between people living in close quarters. Such trust makes roommates share even the most of personal information with each other.
Such a scenario likely explains how Jean got to know of Molly’s problem with the spelling of certain words. As a result of this, the court should not rule out the possibility that Jean gave false information to the police, knowing very well the chaotic situation that will arise as a result of her actions. With this in mind, the court should regard the handwriting sample as inadmissible before the law.
The move to suppress evidence is a common practice in USA judicial systems (Kyllo v. United States, 2001). The motion is often moved before the court by the defendant’s lawyer. In such cases, the defense petitions the court to treat some or all of the evidence prepared by the prosecution as inadmissible. As a result, the defense successfully avoids some of the charges previously leveled against the suspect (Scheb & Scheb, 34).
The current information that the prosecution has against Molly is enough to put up a very strong case against her. However, with a successful motion challenging the admissibility of the evidence, the case is significantly weakened and Molly can even have all the charges against her thrown out by the court.
Ingram, J. L. (2009). Criminal evidence (10th ed.). Burlington: Elsevier Science.
Kyllo v. United States, 533 U.S.A. 27 (2001).
Samaha, J. (2011). Criminal procedure. New York: Wadsworth Publishing.
Scheb, J. M., & Scheb, J. M. (2011). Criminal law and procedure (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth Cengage Learning.
State v. Carter, 322 N.C. 709, 370 S.E.2d 553 (1988).
State v. Frazier, 142 N.C. App. 361, 542 S.E.2d 682 (2001);