What is a Motion to Suppress?

By Allen, Texas Criminal Defense Lawyer Kyle T. Therrian
Office Number: (972) 562-7549
24 Hr Jail Release: (214) 403-6522

Motion to Suppress

A motion to suppress is a motion which is filed by a criminal defendant because the police violated his or her rights in investigating a crime. The result of a successful motion to suppress is the exclusion of some or all of the evidence in a criminal case – the “fruit of the poisonous tree.”

Just like our laws which prohibit criminal conduct, there are laws regulating the conduct of police when they investigate a crime. These laws are our personal and constitutional rights, and the courts take them as seriously, if not more seriously, than the most serious of criminal offenses. Some people consider winning a case by a motion to suppress a technicality, but this is perspective takes a micro and not a macro approach (the small picture not the big picture).

Why Does a Court Suppress Evidence?

From the macro or big picture perspective, our courts know that enforcement is an absolute prerequisite to attaining the benefit of a law. Laws designed to conform behavior must carry consequences for nonconformance. Some people ask “why do we care about some criminal’s rights?” but the question involves a false assumption. Suppressing evidence because the police violated a specific probably-guilty person’s rights does not reflect concern for the specific criminal’s rights. Our courts have recognized that there is no real recompense for the innocent victim of unlawful police practices or behavior. The efficient solution to conforming police behavior to respect the rights of everyone is to provide consequences rather than rewards for misbehavior. Thus, suppression of evidence in a criminal case.

What are Common Issues in a Motion to Suppress?

A motion to suppress most commonly raises issues with a search (vehicle, home, person) or a seizure (detention, traffic stop, arrest), where the police did not have the requisite legal justification for their actions. In this context, a motion to suppress focuses upon constitutional rights. A motion to suppress may also raise failure to comply or violation of a statutory provision, typically one in which our legislature has specifically provided procedures for particular areas of investigation.

How to Know if Your Motion to Suppress Issue is a Good Issue

A motion to suppress is not an issue which a defendant can typically self-diagnose. An issue raised by a motion to suppress is purely a legal one and has, in most cases, been shaped, chiseled and contradicted by years case law. In this regard, diagnosing an issue ripe for suppression is a lot like getting an x-ray—a lot that can be learned by looking under the surface and it can’t be done by yourself.


*Kyle Therrian is an attorney licensed to practice in the State of Texas. Nothing in this article is intended to be legal advice. For legal advice on any case you should contact an attorney directly.

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