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Maryland Criminal Defense: Value of Suppression Hearings Even if You Lose

Top-rated and proven Maryland criminal defense attorneys use a legal mechanism called a “suppression hearing” to increase the chances of getting criminal charges dismissed or achieving a jury acquittal. In such a hearing, what is being attempted is the suppression of various types of evidence that may be inadmissible under constitutional and legal principles. The most common reason to exclude — suppress — evidence involves evidence collected in violation of the rights of the accused. A few examples include:

  • Exclusion of all evidence seized from a vehicle because the original traffic stop was unlawful
  • Exclusion of the contents of a person’s pockets because the stop and “pat-down” were not justified
  • Exclusion of a defendant’s statements given to the police because they were made in violation of the defendant’s right against self-incrimination and/or right to an attorney
  • Exclusion of evidence found in the defendant’s home because the search was not constitutional

Obviously, the reason for filing a request for a suppression hearing is to “win” and obtain an Order from the Maryland criminal court judge that excludes the evidence. Suppression of evidence — particularly key evidence — will generally result in the prosecuting attorneys dismissing the case. If the key evidence cannot be used at trial, then the prosecution cannot obtain a guilty verdict. Alternatively, the prosecutors will be agreeable to a favorable plea bargain.

However, there is great value in asking for a suppression hearing even if you lose. These include the ability to “map out” the prosecution’s case, the ability to test and evaluate some of the key witnesses for the prosecution, and the ability to have sworn testimony from the prosecuting witnesses that can be used later at trial for impeachment. It should also be noted that the denial of a motion to suppress evidence can be the basis for appealing a conviction.

In many ways, a suppression hearing is like a mini-trial. The judge will be present along with various witnesses for the prosecution and the defense. The hearing will take at least a couple of hours and might take a whole day. There might be several witnesses testifying, and various documents and physical things (like a weapon, seized drugs, etc.) are often presented. Each witness will be questioned and will then be cross-examined, as you might see in a full criminal trial. Because of this, Maryland criminal defense attorneys have a good opportunity to “map out” part of the prosecution’s case. During the suppression hearing, weaknesses or “gaps” in the prosecution’s evidence might become apparent. A key witness, for example, might be lying obviously on the witness stand, or the witnesses might have varying stories about what happened. This sort of information can be very helpful in developing a successful defense strategy for trial.

Even if the judge refuses to suppress the requested evidence, a suppression hearing might show the prosecuting attorneys that their case is actually pretty weak. This might prompt a new set of plea bargain negotiations.

Contact Waldorf, Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer Robert Castro Today

This article has been provided by the Law Office of Robert Castro. For more information or questions, contact our office to speak to an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer at (301) 705-5137. We are Waldorf, MD, Criminal Defense lawyers. Our address is 2670 Crain Highway, Waldorf, MD 20601.