A charge of driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol is a serious charge in Georgia, and can be a misdemeanor or a felony depending on the facts. Defending your case is incredibly important to protecting your rights and ultimately your freedoms. In certain cases, improperly obtained evidence can be excluded from trial through a suppression hearing.
If you or someone you care for has been arrested for DUI, an experienced Georgia DUI attorney can analyze your case to suppress evidence which was wrongfully obtained by law enforcement.
What is a Suppression Hearing?
A suppression hearing is a legal mechanism which allows a defendant to request a hearing to show that certain evidence was improperly obtained by law enforcement. If the defendant can prove his or her case, that evidence can be excluded from trial.
Understanding the "Exclusionary Rule"
The "exclusionary rule" forbids the government from using any evidence it gathered illegally. This usually occurs when certain evidence was gathered that violates a defendant's U.S. Constitution Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure.
If an officer fails to follow proper constitutional protocol, the evidence he or she obtained can be excluded from trial. This means that the prosecutor will not be able to use that illegally obtained evidence in the case against you. In some cases, the evidence is so important to the prosecutor's case that your DUI charges could be dismissed.
The "Fruit of the Poisonous Tree"
The doctrine of "fruit of the poisonous tree" means that even evidence which is otherwise admissible will be excluded if how it was discovered was because of an illegal search or some other violation of your constitutional rights.
Example: If a Georgia law enforcement officer pulls you over in a way that violates your constitutional rights, any evidence discovered as a result of the illegal stop may be excluded. This could include any breath or urine tests, or even field sobriety tests.
Exceptions to the Exclusionary Rule
Even when Georgia police overstep their bounds and violate your rights, in certain situations evidence can still be used against you.
- Good Faith - If a law enforcement officer believes he or she is working within constitutional boundaries, certain procedural errors may be excused. This usually occurs with defective search warrants. If the warrant had a small defect, but the officer believed it was not defective, the results of the search can still be used.
- Inevitable Discovery - This doctrine holds that if a piece of evidence would have been discovered eventually, regardless of the constitutional violation, it may be admitted for use against you.
- Independent Source - If the source of evidence is not the officer who illegally found the evidence, the source is considered "independent" and the evidence will be admitted anyway.
Consult a DUI Attorney
If you have been arrested for DUI you need to fight for your rights at every step of your case. An experienced Georgia DUI attorney knows the law and how to defend your case. Contact us today for a free consultation.