Stephen G. Cobb - Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

Is My Case Dismissed If My Motion To Suppress Evidence Is Granted?


Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

If a motion to suppress evidence is granted, it’s possible that the case will be dismissed. If the suppression of evidence damages the case so severely that the prosecution cannot go forward, then it will probably be dismissed. However, if there is other evidence that is not suppressed, then the suppression of evidence may result in charges being reduced or substituted for a lesser offense. If the suppression of evidence is not sufficiently damaging to the prosecution’s case, then it may have no affect at all. Suppression hearings are very fact-driven and case law focused, so it’s going to be about the interplay between specific facts that are found in the case during a suppression hearing, as well as about what the case law says regarding a particular statement.

How Long Does It Generally Take To Get a Decision On a Motion To Suppress Evidence?

There was a major felony trafficking case in Walton County, Florida, wherein the judge made the determination to suppress evidence before all of the evidence had even been presented. I think you could have heard a pin drop, because no one thought the judge would do that. However, all of the witnesses who were going to testify had already testified and had gone into the argument stage. The judge listened to the first part of the state’s argument, the defense started their argument and the judge interrupted the defense lawyer to suppress it on the spot.

The state attorney tried to continue arguing and the judge shut him down. This is unusual. Generally, a judge will wait until the end of the presentation and the argument before issuing a ruling. When there are more complex issues involved, a judge will sometimes take it under advisement, which means that they will take time to think about it before issuing a written ruling. So, in about 20% of the cases, the judge will take it under advisement and make a ruling later on in writing.

Can You Relate Some Examples Of Cases Where You Have Successfully Used A Motion To Suppress Evidence?

My favorite example of a motion to suppress evidence was in a quadruple homicide case that I defended many years ago. To put it mildly, the defendant was extremely difficult, and he made a three-and-a-half hour statement to the police. Partway through the statement on page 97 of the transcript, he said that he wanted to speak to a lawyer before making any more statements. Instead, the lead investigator used an improper technique of interrogation known as the Christian burial technique.

In a nutshell, the Christian burial technique is a way of asking a defendant, “Don’t you want to tell us where the body is so that they can have a Christian burial?” The way that it’s done is usually very long, drawn out and coercive. In fact, it’s so coercive that the courts don’t allow it in murder cases. Someone can literally walk free after having committed a murder if the only evidence against them is a statement and the Christian burial technique was used. That’s how strongly the courts have rejected this particular technique.

In this particular case, I was able to get part of the statement suppressed, and the prosecution made an adjustment that was absolutely brilliant. The prosecutor relied on the 911 recording instead of the three-and-a-half hour statement, and correctly anticipated that if he introduced the first 97 pages of the defendant’s statement, that I was going to turn right around during the defense case and use what’s known as the rule of completion. It’s part of the evidence code.

That would not only make him look bad to the jury, but it would also make the case look bad. So, the prosecutor completely left that three-and-a-half hour statement alone. To this day, it was one of the most tactically brilliant moves I’ve seen a prosecutor make in my entire career. That’s probably my most noteworthy story on a motion to suppress that succeeded yet failed. Motions to suppress are a critical part of a criminal defense lawyer’s arsenal, but it’s always important to remember that just because a particular item of evidence is suppressed, it does not guarantee that the defense will win.

Disclaimer: This article is in response to questions frequently asked of Mr. Cobb and is an unedited dictation transcript. Just like talk to text on your smartphone, there may be misspelled words or sentence fragments.

For more information on Dismissal From A Suppression Motion, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (850) 466-1522 today.

Stephen G. Cobb, Esq.

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