Evidence is essential in any criminal case. The prosecution must use evidence to prove that a person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. However, the source of that evidence is also critical. The “exclusionary rule” prevents evidence from being used if it was obtained illegally.
Before 1914, law enforcement could use evidence from any and all sources in a criminal case, no matter what methods they used to collect it. Fortunately, this was found to be unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, and today, there are procedures that must be followed when gathering evidence. But how do you know if the evidence being used in your case was obtained illegally?
Were You Read Your Rights?
When someone is arrested, the arresting officer must read them their Miranda Rights. Before an officer can start asking you questions, they must read you your rights and inform you that you have the right to remain silent. If they didn’t, any answers you gave were obtained illegally and should not be admissible in court. If an officer failed to inform you of your right to remain silent at the appropriate times, then they do not have the right to use what you said at that time against you.
Was There Probable Cause?
To obtain evidence legally, a police officer must have a specific reason for performing a search. For example, if you were pulled over and the officer decided to search your car without probable cause (meaning that they had no reason to think someone in the car had committed a crime), then any evidence from that search was not obtained legally. Even if the officer found drugs or other indications of a crime, that evidence should not be admissible in court.
Did the Officers Have a Search Warrant?
If officers enter your home or another place with the expectation of privacy, they need the court to approve a search warrant. Searches conducted without a warrant and without probable cause are illegal. Any evidence gathered during these searches should not be used in court to incriminate you.
Can Illegally Obtained Evidence Be Used in Court?
Law enforcement officials need to follow the proper procedures for obtaining evidence. However, it’s important to note that the courts have allowed some exceptions, and the Supreme Court recently ruled to allow illegally obtained evidence in certain situations. With that said, contesting the admissibility of the evidence in your case could be an important strategy in winning your case.
If you think some of the evidence in your case was obtained illegally, it’s critical to use this information in your defense. Our Cincinnati, Ohio, defense lawyers can help you ensure that officers are held accountable and work to prevent inadmissible evidence from affecting your case. Call our office today at 513-579-9500 for more information.