Police and prosecutors may have collected evidence against you in building a criminal case, but that does not necessarily mean that the evidence they have collected – whether anyone thinks it make you seem more guilty or not – can necessarily be used against you in court. Oftentimes, the questions of what evidence a jury can evaluate against you and what is considered inadmissible can mean the difference between a guilty verdict and non guilty verdict or even a dropped investigation or case if police or prosecutors determine they do not have enough admissible evidence to prove your guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Challenging the admission of evidence against in a criminal trial is thus one of the main strategies by which an experienced criminal defense attorney can defend your rights and freedom, and below are a few of the more common ways defense attorneys successfully challenge such evidence.
Evidence Obtained Through an Unconstitutional Search
The Fourth Amendment protects all US residents from unreasonable searches and seizures, and a seizure can mean both a seizure of property or a seizure of a person as in an arrest. Whenever evidence is seized during a search of you, your property, or your home, the police must have a constitutional basis for doing so, such as a search warrant, your consent, probable cause, or a search incident to a lawful arrest. If there was not a constitutional basis, your attorney can argue that the evidence should be excluded from your trial.
In addition, police must have a constitutional basis for stopping you (as in a traffic stop or stopping and frisking you on the street) and arresting you, and if they did not have reasonable suspicion to stop you or probable cause to arrest you, evidence seized from searches conducted as part of those encounters may be excluded.
Statements Obtained in Violation of Your Constitutional Rights
Under the Fifth Amendment, you have a right against self-incrimination. What this means (among other things) is that the police must read you your Miranda rights if they are interrogating while you are in custody, which includes an arrest as well as other situation in which you do not feel free to leave (i.e. being in a police station or squad car). If they do not, your lawyer may be able to exclude any statements you give them from your trial.
Furthermore, regardless of whether you were read your rights, any statements the police obtained from through force or other involuntary means may also be excluded at trial.
Likewise, under the Sixth Amendment, you have the right to be defended by an attorney: 1) anytime you ask for one while being questioned by police; and 2) anytime formal criminal proceedings have been brought against you. If you did not have an attorney present in these situations, any evidence the police obtain from you might be excluded.
Other Evidentiary Rules
In addition to constitutional protections, you are protected by numerous state and federal rules of evidence (depending on whether your case is in state or federal criminal court) which your attorney can use to prevent evidence from being brought against you. The list of evidentiary rules is quite extensive, but a few successful objections to evidence being brought against you include:
- Overly prejudicial evidence lacking relevance
- Evidence of past crimes
- Improper evidence of your character
- Evidence brought by incompetent witnesses
- Evidence lacking authentication (i.e. recordings or photographs)
- Statements made outside of court (hearsay) without an allowable exception to the hearsay rules
Speak with an attorney about how to challenge evidence in your particular case.
Aggressive Criminal Defense Attorney in Oklahoma
Oklahoma City criminal defense attorney Patrick Quillian worked as an Oklahoma district attorney, so he has the experience of working on the other side and understands how to best fight your case and work towards a dismissal of charges, not guilty verdict, or favorable agreement with reduction of penalties and charges in your Oklahoma criminal investigation or prosecution. Contact the office of J. Patrick Quillian, Attorney at Law, today at 405.294.4448 to schedule a free consultation to see what his criminal defense team can do for you.