Thursday, July 2, 2015
What is the POINT of a
in New York?
In a New York criminal case ---whether it is a DWI or not, a SUPPRESSION HEARING is the defense attorney's first real opportunity to challenge the government's evidence against you.
In practical terms, IT IS A SNEAK PREVIEW OF A TRIAL.
Every Suppression hearing is different... you have to have a good REASON to make a motion for a suppression hearing.
Getting a Suppression hearing granted by a Judge is NOT GUARANTEED. We, as defense lawyers, have to put very specific reasons backed up by facts for a Judge to allow us to have a hearing. Some judges won't let you do them --while other judges think of suppression hearings as almost automatic in certain types of cases.
Especially if you have a DWI case in the TOWN JUSTICE Courts of upstate New York..you better make sure that your motion is absolutely beautiful, thorough, and complete. If not, there's a good chance the Town Justice won't grant you a hearing.
WHAT KINDS OF EVIDENCE CAN A DEFENSE LAWYER TRY TO SUPPRESS?
Well, like I said, for each case it is different---let's discuss a DWI Case specifically.
1. We challenge the Probable Cause of the Traffic Stop
2. We challenge the Probable Cause of the Arrest
3. We challenge whether any statements made should be suppressed
THOSE ARE THE THREE MOST COMMON THINGS TO CHALLENGE IN A DWI CASE. However, there are separate hearings that can be granted (WITH GOOD REASON) to challenge other issues in a DWI...
- We might be able to challenge whether the REFUSAL to take the Breath Test was valid
-We might be able to challenge if your MIRANDA RIGHTS were violated
If the Judge believes any of our arguments as to why some of the government's evidence should be suppressed, he could exclude it partially or completely from a future trial --thereby weakening or even destroying the case. (this is a rare occurrence).
**NOTE: It is very rare indeed for a Judge to entirely throw out important evidence in any case --especially in a criminal case. There would have to be an airtight reason for a trial Judge to exclude any evidence in a DWI case. ***
THERE ARE OTHER BENEFITS TO A SUPPRESSION HEARING...
Sometimes, we like to push cases to a suppression hearing just so we can get the Prosecutor and the Police Officers in the Court room together.
Let's say, for example, that negotiations over a Plea Offer have been stalled. The Prosecutor won't budge on a plea offer that we think isn't fair for our client. Then, if we felt it was in the best interest of the client, we would seek a suppression hearing to cross-examine the Officer.
If he answers things poorly --he is doing so under oath. The prosecutor may think twice about his terrible offer and make it better if he sees that his case is harder to prove because he has a bad witness.
Also, any time we cross-examine an officer on the stand, he is testifying under oath. That means we are DEVELOPING GOOD TESTIMONY to use again if we ever need to go to a trial down the road.
We get a copy of the Suppression Hearing transcript so that we can use it at a trial --and the police officer will be forced to testify the same way as he did at the suppression hearing at the trial. If says something new or different at the trial, we can use the suppression hearing transcript to show the JURY that he is LYING! Or he is mistaken! Either way it is good our client.
Basically, a suppression hearing can give both the Prosecutor and defense an idea of how a trial might go...for better or for worse.
They are usually reserved for cases where the plea offer isn't what we would like it to be --in an effort to improve it. That's typically the primary goal of a suppression hearing in practical terms.
By Attorney Mike Cyr