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Burlington County, NJ Law Blog

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Motions to Suppress Evidence in New Jersey

What are the grounds for suppressing evidence in New Jersey?

If you are facing criminal charges and have concerns about some of the evidence that the state intends to use against you, you may wish to have the evidence suppressed or deemed inadmissible in court.  To successfully move to have evidence excluded, you will need to file a motion to suppress evidence with the assistance of your experienced criminal defense lawyer.  Suppression motions must be backed by strong proof as to why the evidence should not be admissible and, while many suppression motions are filed, only a small portion of them are granted.

The Exclusionary Rule

The exclusionary rule holds that the government cannot use evidence that has been gathered illegally.  Illegal evidence could be evidence obtained in violation of a suspect’s Fourth, Fifth, or Sixth Amendment rights.  Any evidence obtained as a result of an illegal search or another constitutional violation must be excluded as “fruits of the poisonous tree.”

Grounds for Suppression of Evidence 

There are several potential grounds for suppression of evidence in a criminal case, including:

  • Failure to read your Miranda rights:  Under the law, police officers must read a suspect their “Miranda rights” prior to questioning or interrogation.  These rights inform the suspect of their right to remain silent, right to an attorney, and that anything he or she says could be used in court.  If you were not read your complete Miranda rights, statements that you made afterwards may not be admissible in court.
  • Unlawful search and seizure:  You are protected against unlawful search and seizures under the Fourth Amendment.  Absent some exceptions, a police officer must have a valid search warrant, arrest warrant, or probable cause that a crime has been committed in order to search your person or property.
  • Chain of custody problems:  When evidence is seized, it must be carefully documented and preserved.  If police officers break the chain of custody and raise the possibility of contaminated evidence, you may have grounds to suppress the evidence.

Your criminal defense lawyer will carefully review the circumstances surrounding your arrest, questioning, and more to uncover whether you have grounds for a viable suppression motion.  If granted, your motion to suppress could potentially be the end of your criminal charges.


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