A motion to suppress
seeks to exclude illegally obtained evidence based upon a constitutional
violation.[1] The purpose of a motion to
suppress is to determine, before trial, whether particular evidence will be
admissible at trial. If the judge finds the evidence is not admissible, the
prosecuting attorney may determine they cannot go forward on the case and
dismiss it entirely. If the judge rules the evidence is admissible, the
defendant may be more inclined to enter a guilty plea knowing the objected to
evidence will be admitted.

motion to suppress must:

  • Be made in writing
  • Raise a constitutional ground or
  • Allege sufficient facts to place the
    prosecution on notice of the claim of unlawfulness
  • Be filed no later than 10 days after
    arraignment (unless judge allows for extension in writing)

A failure to
comply with these requirements could result in a waiver of your motion and
ability to resolve these issues before a trial.

Once a
motion to suppress has been filed, the burden of proving the lawfulness of the
legal issues raised is placed on the State. A defendant is general entitled to
an evidentiary hearing unless the parties agree to the facts. If so, the judge
may rule on the motion without a hearing as a matter of law. The hearing must
occur outside the presence of a jury.

For example,
in the context of a DUI case, a defendant should file a motion to suppress the
results of a chemical test (ex. breath or blood) if there was insufficient
probable cause to arrest. The prosecutor would have to call the arresting
officer to court and prove to a judge there was probable cause to arrest. Not
only could a judge rule in your favor, but a defendant also receives the
benefit of officer testimony made under oath. Therefore, if the officer later
testifies at trial to something inconsistent with what that officer said at the
motion to suppress, the officer’s prior inconsistent statement could be used to
impeach that officer (showing they are not credible). 

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[1] A motion to suppress does not apply to (1)
attacks on the validity of charging documents (accusations or indictments); (2)
chain of custody issues; or (3) to testimony.