The Exclusionary Rule in Felony Crimes

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If you have been arrested and charged with a felony offense, you likely understand the seriousness of the charges you’re facing. It’s important not to despair, however, and trust that an experienced criminal defense attorney can help mount a convincing defense on your behalf.

Law enforcement and prosecutors in Colorado will work to build a strong case against you. It is important to remember that to secure a conviction, they must convince a judge or jury that you are guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt.” To do so, they’ll have to collect evidence that demonstrates your guilt.

Not all evidence that is collected will be admissible in court, however. For example, evidence that is gathered through unconstitutional methods like illegal search and seizure or without a proper warrant could be suppressed by the court through the exclusionary rule. This legal doctrine makes this evidence inadmissible in court and is used to deter police officers and government agents from abusing your rights guaranteed by the constitution.

How the Exclusionary Rule Was Established

The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States explicitly prohibits authorities from conducting unreasonable or unlawful searches without having probable cause or a valid search warrant.

This could include:

  • Illegal search
  • Illegal seizure
  • Unreasonable suspicion
  • Lack of probable cause

If the evidence was obtained unconstitutionally, the court will suppress the evidence, meaning it cannot be used in your trial.

How Can the Exclusionary Rule Help My Case?

The use of the exclusionary rule in a defense case can be very powerful; it can all but eliminate incriminating evidence that was found as the result of an illegal search. If vital evidence is suppressed in your case, the prosecutor will have no choice but to drop the charges against you.

The exclusionary rule is meant to deter police from misconduct, either not utilizing a valid search warrant, not having probable cause. The exclusionary rule is in place to protect the rights of everyone from the overreach or abuse of police power. An experienced defense lawyer will know how to use the exclusionary rule to the benefit of their client, depending on the circumstances of their case. It is a way to protect all of our rights and to demonstrate that illegal search tactics will not be tolerated.

Frequently Asked Questions

It is natural to be unfamiliar with legal doctrines like the exclusionary rule. Fortunately, when you hire an experienced criminal defense attorney, your lawyer will immediately examine the evidence against you and will pay close attention to how it was obtained. To learn more about this doctrine, read our FAQs below. If you or a loved one have been charged with a crime in Colorado, contact me, Christian A. Schwaner at (719) 577-9700 today.

Police searched my home but didn’t show me a warrant, now I have been charged with a felony is that legal?

It depends. An experienced defense lawyer will need to dig into the facts of the case, find out if there was an actual warrant or if it was supplied after the fact. Your best bet is to call our office right away so that we can investigate your situation.

What is probable cause?

Probable cause is defined as facts that support an objective reason to believe that a person may have committed a crime, or that a place or item to be searched will show evidence of a crime. It an officer has pulled someone over for a broken taillight, then smells a strong odor of alcohol, they can claim probable cause to search for open containers of alcohol or conduct a field sobriety test.

If an officer pulls someone over and asks to search the car for weapons because of their appearance, that is not an example of probable cause. If something were to be found in that car, the exclusionary rule might apply to evidence collected if it is determined that the officer lacked probable cause or reasonable suspicion.

The exclusionary rule can be used in felony criminal cases, what if I face a civil lawsuit as well?

The exclusionary rule may not apply to civil proceedings in the United States. An experienced attorney can help you review your options.

Contact Us Today

If you or a loved one is facing a felony charge in Colorado, contact me, Attorney Christian A. Schwaner right away. Our legal system was designed to protect those accused of crimes from overzealous law enforcement officers, and if the evidence against you was collected illegally, I’ll work to get it suppressed through the exclusionary rule.

Even if the exclusionary rule doesn’t apply to the evidence in your case, I can still help you mount a strong defense against the charges you face. I’ll be ready to put my skills and experience to work for you, so call me at (719) 577-9700 or reach out online to schedule a confidential case evaluation.

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