In support of a defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights, California law, specifically in California Penal Code § 1538.5, empowers those who have been the subject of searches and seizures to move a court to suppress the property or evidence, whether tangible or intangible, taken as a result. An experienced criminal defense attorney may compel a court to throw out any illegally obtained evidence and negotiate to reduce the charges or have the charges dropped entirely.
The Fourth Amendment expressly states that we have the right “to be secure” in our “person, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” As a result, all Americans have the right to a reasonable expectation of privacy and when violated by the authorities, the California Constitution and U.S. Constitution protect us.
California criminal defense attorneys typically file a “1538.5,” also known as a “suppression motion,” as a pretrial motion as part of the preliminary hearing or in a separate hearing while the defendant awaits trial. It is a simple request that asks that the court exclude evidence obtained because the search or seizure was illegal.
The prosecution is barred from introducing and using the evidence at trial If the motion to suppress evidence is granted by the court. Once this occurs, the defendant should then be in a better position to possibly have the case dismissed or, minimally, the charges reduced.
Penal Code 1538.5 provides that a court shall suppress evidence obtained:
- By a search or seizure without a warrant that was unreasonable
- By a search or seizure with a warrant, where
- The warrant was insufficient on its face,
- The property or evidence obtained was not the kind described in the warrant,
- The warrant was issued where no probable cause existed, or
- The methods of the search as executed violated the U.S. or California Constitutions.
Any search conducted without a properly issued search warrant is presumed to be unreasonable and illegal. The burden is on the State of California to prove that the search was reasonable. A court may only issue a warrant if probable exists. However, as history has continually proven, state and federal law enforcement agencies may exceed the scope of a warrant or seize evidence not described in the warrant. The warrant itself may have been issued despite the absence of probable cause.
A criminal defendant must be prepared to provide the court with the factual basis and legal authorities in support of any motion to suppress evidence. Good, seasoned criminal defense counsel should be well familiar with these points and authorities and help any defendant avoid being convicted of criminal charges based on evidence illegally obtained by the authorities.
Hiring an experienced criminal defense attorney is crucial to defend any criminal charge. The advice, guidance, and representation of experienced criminal defense counsel may be crucial to achieving the best possible result in any criminal matter. John Patrick Dolan has forty years of criminal defense experience. Contact Dolan Law Offices today at 760-775-3739 or 562-824-4007 to discuss your situation or find out more online here.