When you are charged with a criminal offense, the evidence might seem stacked against you. As a result, you may be extremely worried about what is to come. This is understandable given that a criminal conviction has the potential to completely upend your life, threatening you with jail or prison time, massive fines, and damage to your reputation that can affect your ability to find a job and housing.
But even if you are in this situation, you shouldn’t let your fear paralyze you into inaction. Rather, you should carefully analyze the facts of your case to determine if any of the prosecution’s evidence was obtained illegally. If it was, you may be able to block the prosecution from using it against you.
How is evidence illegally obtained?
Although gathering evidence may seem easy for law enforcement and prosecutors, the fact of the matter is that they must follow strict protocols and the law. When they do not, they infringe on your rights. This is unacceptable. Therefore, you should look for the following circumstances to determine if the evidence being used against you was illegally obtained.
- Illegal traffic stop: A lot of illegally seized evidence is obtained by law enforcement after an illegal traffic stop. Before initiating a stop, police officers are supposed to have reasonable suspicion that you have violated the law in some fashion. If they stop you without the appropriate pretext, any subsequently gathered evidence, regardless of how indicative of criminal wrongdoing it is, is considered tainted. This is known as the fruit of the poisonous tree. You should be able to suppress this evidence.
- Violations of your Miranda rights: Another way that evidence is illegally obtained is by violating your right to remain silent and to have an attorney represent you. Missteps here are often seen when the police proceed with custodial interrogation without informing you of your rights. You are never required to talk to the police, so don’t let them trick you into thinking that they are your friend and only want to help you. But even if they do get you to talk while you are in custody, you may be able to suppress any statements that you make, even if it was a full-blown confession.
- Warrant violations: Even if law enforcement obtains a warrant to search your car, your home, or your body, they often fail to abide by the parameters of the warrant. When they do this, the evidence obtained may be tainted by illegality. So, if law enforcement collected incriminating evidence via warrant, you will want to make sure that you analyze the language of the warrant that was used to see if your rights were violated.
It is important to note that the prosecution is not going to admit to illegally obtaining evidence. That means that the responsibility falls to you to point out where law enforcement and prosecutors have acted inappropriately. This often requires you to file a motion to suppress and have an argument on that motion in front of a judge. Before you get to that point, though, you’ll want to be as prepared as possible.
Have a strong legal advocate on your side
If you want help fighting back against aggressive prosecutors, you may want to have a skilled criminal defense advocate on your side. One of these attorneys can help you assess the facts of your case and develop the arguments that you need to aggressively defend yourself and your future. To learn more, be thorough in researching your representation options and think about speaking to the one that you think is right for you.