Stephen G. Cobb - Florida Criminal Defense Lawyer

What Happens At The Hearing For A Motion To Suppress Evidence?


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.

When a motion to suppress evidence is filed, a hearing is normally scheduled. The judge’s judicial assistant who is designated to coordinate such things in the particular county where the litigation is occurring will often want to know about how long the hearing will take. Some motions to suppress might take 20 or 30 minutes and go very quickly, while other motions to suppress might take a whole day. So, that’s going to be one of the considerations they are going to want to know.

Even though a hearing is usually set, a hearing does not always occur. Not too long ago, I had a motion to suppress in a drug possession case, and because of my travel schedule, I was actually scheduled to fly out of the area to take care of some business and fly back on the day before the hearing. While I was on the flight coming back, the prosecutor voluntarily dismissed the charge on the evening before the day of trial. Apparently she was hoping that we would give up, but we did not.

If a hearing does occur, then it will be scheduled according to the court calendar in the particular county. I’d love to tell you that all 67 counties are singing from the same sheet of music and that every written plea agreement is identical, but the reality is that we have more than 67 ways to do it. This is because some of the counties have more than one circuit judge, and even within the county they will have different procedures.

Will The Jury Be Aware That Some Evidence Was Suppressed In The Case?

Based on the case law involving Florida criminal law, as well as acts of Florida legislature and the Florida Rules of Criminal Procedure, the jury is not to know that evidence has been suppressed. During the jury selection process, a great deal of care is taken in determining what type of pre-trial publicity the jurors have been exposed to. There will be fewer questions on a low-profile case as opposed to a high-profile case. If the venire panel has members that have been exposed to pre-trial publicity and they know that a key piece of evidence has been suppressed because of media accounts, then the judge will often ask the people to raise their hands and not blurt out what type of media exposure they have been exposed to.

For example, prospective jury members may be asked whether or not they have heard of the case through the media. Instead of answering verbally, they will be asked to raise their hands. The judge will then have them go to the bench one at a time. In the presence of the lawyers for the defense and for the state, the judge will ask more specific questions about the information they have been exposed to. The lawyers will be given an opportunity to question the venire panel about what they’ve been exposed to in the media and how that exposure affects them. Generally speaking, the jury is not to know that the exclusionary rule has been applied because that would deny someone a fair trial due to a prejudiced jury.

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.

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Stephen G. Cobb, Esq.

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