What does “Motion to Suppress”mean?

Asked on July 13, 2010 under Criminal Law, Ohio


B. B., Member, New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A motion to suppress evidence is filed by the defendant's attorney to try and keep particular items of evidence out of the trial, away from the jury.  It is most often used in connection with search and seizure issues, particularly in cases involving narcotics or the like.  In these settings, the motion to suppress can actually be the whole case: if the jury gets to find out that the defendant had the illegal property on his person or in his home, there's almost no way to avoid a guilty verdict, while if the prosecution can't put the illegal property in evidence, an acquittal is all but necessary as a matter of law.

As a result, it is routine procedure when a defendant loses a motion to suppress, where there is some reason to believe that the decision could or should have gone the other way, for a defendant to enter a guilty plea but subject to the right to appeal the denial of the motion.

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