What is a Motion to Suppress in a Drug or Gun Crime Case?
Drug and gun crimes fall under possessory offenses in Arizona. Generally, arrests for these offenses take place when law enforcement finds the illegal contraband on a person. That gives them the means to detain you and charge you with a crime.
People facing drug or gun possession violations often feel like they should just plead guilty to the charges since there is no defense for such charges. But before you say anything to law enforcement, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.
An attorney will work with you to build a defense or at least plead the charges down to lesser sentences and severity. Here’s a look at how motions to suppress could impact these possessory offenses.
Motions to suppress in Arizona criminal defense cases
The most common defense strategy for this type of crime is to file a motion to suppress. In your motion, you and your attorney will argue that the police officer’s actions that led them to discover the items in question violated your rights. This would be an unlawful search and seizure.
You’ll file a motion to suppress before your case goes to trial. This would suppress the evidence against you, such as the unlawful gun or drugs that were in your possession. A successful motion to suppress means that the prosecution cannot use this evidence against you. It cannot be admitted in your trial.
Generally, this is the only evidence that the prosecution has against a defendant in a gun or drug crime charge. That means that if you succeed in getting this evidence suppressed, the prosecution will likely have to drop the charges against you.
Arizona search and seizure law
To succeed in your motion to suppress, you’ll need to show that the officer violated your rights with an unlawful search and seizure, leading to the evidence they found against you.
Winning a motion to suppress due to an unlawful search and seizure means proving that you had an expectation of privacy where the officers searched.
For example, if you dispose of a gun in a public park and an officer witnesses the action, you won’t have grounds to suppress the evidence. This is because you voluntarily disposed of the item in a public place. There is no expectation of privacy in a public place like this.
On the other hand, if you had a gun in the glove compartment of your car, the police officer must have reasonable suspicion to search your vehicle. Without a valid reason, police cannot search your person or your personal belongings, such as your home or vehicle.
Until you violate a law or commit another unrelated crime, the officer does not have a right to search you for illegal drugs or a gun. If the police officer is responding to a call, the courts will scrutinize how closely you resembled the person described in the emergency call. Additionally, the officer would need to have a detailed enough description to suspect you of the crime in question.
Search and seizure laws are complicated and very nuanced. Each case will be unique and filing a motion to suppress might be based on different aspects of the officer’s decision to search you or your belongings. It takes an expert to review the details related to an arrest to know whether the officer had reasonable suspicion to execute the search.
If you’re facing a gun or drug possession charge, you should seek an Arizona criminal defense attorney, regardless of how much evidence law enforcement has against you. An attorney will evaluate all aspects of your case to build a defense or plead down your case accordingly.
Contact us for the legal defense you deserve, no matter the charges against you.