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When is criminal evidence inadmissible?

New Mexico residents charged with a criminal offense often need to gain quick knowledge of an unfamiliar process to defend themselves. One subject they may benefit from learning about is when the evidence against them can become inadmissible at a trial.

Evidence basics

The prosecution must possess evidence that proves the guilt of a defendant accused of a crime. Examples of this evidence can include a confession, witness testimony, possession of contraband, and many other things. Police officers sometimes feel pressure to collect evidence of a crime as quickly as possible and make procedural errors. When this happens, a criminal defense attorney can have the evidence suppressed.

The exclusionary rule

The Fourth Amendment protects citizens against unlawful searches and seizures. Police officers are not allowed to search a person or their possessions without either a search warrant or probable cause to believe a crime has either happened or the defendant is in the process of committing a crime. Violations involving Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights can also cause the exclusionary rule to become applicable.

Fruit of the poisoned tree

Criminal defense teams may be able to have evidence dismissed that would otherwise be admissible when evidence comes from an illegal search or constitutional rights violation. This type of evidence is often referred to as fruit from a poisoned tree. One example of this doctrine in play is a murder suspect who tells investigators where he hid a weapon. A defense attorney can argue to make this evidence inadmissible if the suspect was not read their Miranda rights.

Individuals accused of a crime enter a legal arena filled with laws and statutes difficult for an inexperienced person to navigate. Defendants may benefit from contacting an attorney as early in the process as possible.