Illegally obtained evidence

A person charged with a crime in Minnesota is protected by both state and federal constitutional rights. The Fourth, Fifth and Sixth Amendments apply to illegally obtained evidence. If someone believes that his or her constitutional rights were violated, the appropriate remedy is to file a motion to suppress the evidence.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects all U.S. citizens from illegal searches and seizures. The government cannot use evidence that was seized illegally against a defendant in a criminal prosecution. A police officer typically must obtain a valid search warrant prior to conducting a search or seizing evidence. According to the "fruit of the poisonous tree" doctrine, evidence that would otherwise be lawfully admissible cannot be used if it was obtained as the result of an illegal search.

Prior to being interrogated by police, people must be read their Miranda rights, which informs the suspects that they have the right to remain silent and that anything they say can be used against them in a court of law. If someone was questioned without being advised of these rights, a subsequent confession may not be admissible as evidence against him or her.

An individual who believes his or her rights have been violated may wish to consult an experienced criminal defense attorney. He or she may be able to prevent illegally obtained evidence from being used in court by filing a motion to suppress. For example, if police conducted an illegal, warrantless search and found controlled substances, that evidence cannot be used against the defendant if a judge grants the defendant's motion to suppress evidence.

Every case is different, so a lawyer must evaluate each case on an individual basis. After the initial meeting, a criminal defense attorney typically will enter his or her appearance, file a motion for discovery to obtain access to the state's evidence, interview witnesses, conduct legal research and file any necessary pretrial motions.

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