Seeking Suppression When the Government Claims the Good Faith Exception

Getting evidence suppressed and charges dismissed is something that only the most successful and persuasive criminal defense attorneys can accomplish. This information is what you need to know if your rights have been violated.

Seeking Suppression of Evidence

The Exclusionary Rule

The Exclusionary Rule is a judge-made rule which states that when evidence is obtained by law enforcement in violation of a suspect’s constitutional rights, that evidence may not be used against that suspect in court. The exclusionary rule was initially born in the United States Supreme Court. All states have since adopted it in one form or another, because all states must follow constitutional holdings of the United States Supreme Court. A state court may provide more constitutional protection than the US Supreme Court, but no state may provide less protection. Any evidence obtained through a constitutional violation is potentially and likely to be suppressed. Any evidence derived from a violation of constitutional rights has come to be known as “the fruit of the poisonous tree.” The violation itself is the poisonous tree and this evidence must be suppressed as well.

If your constitutional rights have been violated, your criminal defense attorney needs to have the experience to successfully challenge the admission of such tainted evidence, get a dismissal of all charges, and have the case thrown out of court. If no challenge is made, or if an attorney is not astute enough to spot that a constitutional violation or strong enough to fight for suppression, the evidence can and will come in. A judge will not step in and tell a defendant he or she should challenge evidence, and neither, of course, will the prosecutor.

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Purpose of the Exclusionary Rule

The purpose intended by keeping unconstitutionally obtained evidence out of court is to deter unconstitutional police conduct. If police know evidence will be kept out if they violate rights, then the theory is that they will probably try not to violate rights. At least, that’s the idea. The idea is a good one, and has had a very significant effect on criminal cases in the United States. This being said, police are not perfect and there are bad apples in every bunch. There are plenty of police officers that can and will violate a suspect’s right believing that the ends justify the means.

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Good Faith Exception to the Exclusionary Rule

As is the case with almost everything in life, things are not usually black and white. Most things exist in a gray area. Therefore, exceptions to the exclusionary rule have developed. One primary exception to the exclusionary rule is the so-called “good faith exception.” The good faith exception exists where police or any law enforcement personnel rely, in objective actual good faith, upon a search warrant issued by a detached and neutral magistrate or judge, but the warrant is ultimately determined not to be supported by probable cause. The reason that evidence can come in despite a defect in a search warrant is that excluding evidence when police were mistaken but “behaved honorably” will not serve a deterrent effect on bad police conduct. Remember, deterrence is the reason for the exclusionary rule. It would be like punishing a child for eating someone else’s cookies when the child actually had good reason to believe they were his cookies.

The Procedure for Suppression of Evidence

When an experienced, perceptive defense attorney spots a potential ground for dismissal based upon an illegal search, he or she should file a Motion to Suppress. If the motion is successful, he or she should then move for a dismissal of all charges based upon insufficient remaining evidence. The government will assuredly always argue the good faith exception, but courts are arenas for the combat of ideas. A great boxer would never step into the ring, look at his opponent, and say, “Wow, I can’t beat this opponent.” He would simply fight with all his heart, like we do on a daily basis.

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The right firm to fight for you and suppress evidence

The dedicated, experienced and zealous defense attorneys at LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. have successfully fought to suppress tainted evidence and get charges dismissed in state and federal cases in Oakland, Macomb, Wayne, Washtenaw, and Livingston Counties and throughout Michigan. We have a well-earned reputation for providing the highest quality defense and aggressive representation, while showing empathy and care for each client. Call us today at (248) 263-6800 or complete a Request for Assistance Form and we will contact you promptly.


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we are not afraid to win!

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