Articles Posted in Search and Seizure

In a November 2023 case before an appeals court in Texas, the defendant asked for a review of the trial court’s decision to deny his motion to suppress evidence. Reviewing the defendant’s appeal, the higher court ultimately disagreed with his argument and affirmed the original verdict. The court’s opinion highlights the difficulty of suppressing incriminating evidence when a defendant commits multiple offenses in a row, serving as a reminder for Texans of just how difficult it can be to successfully suppress evidence in criminal cases.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, officers on patrol one evening used an automated license plate reader to discover that a nearby vehicle’s owner was wanted on multiple outstanding arrest warrants. Additionally, the officers noticed that the vehicle did not match the one for which the vehicle’s tags had been issued.

The officers put on their lights and attempted to conduct a traffic stop. The defendant stopped at first, but then he proceeded to flee the scene. What ensued was a high-speed chase that lasted approximately one hour. Eventually, officers used spike strips to stop the defendant in his car. The officers then arrested the defendant for avoiding arrest.

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Motions to suppress in Texas criminal cases play a critical role to put it mildly. Understanding their significance and knowing how to utilize them effectively is crucial for anyone charged with a serious crime. In this post, we will explore the definition and importance of motions to suppress, the legal grounds for filing such motions in Texas, the process of filing them, the role of defense attorneys in this process, and the potential consequences of successful and unsuccessful motions to suppress.

Understanding Motions to Suppress

Before delving into the intricacies of motions to suppress, it is essential to grasp their fundamental definition. In criminal cases, motions to suppress can be filed when there is reason to believe that certain evidence presented against the defendant was obtained illegally or in violation of their constitutional rights. The primary purpose of these motions is to exclude such evidence from being used against the defendant in court.

The significance of motions to suppress cannot be overstated. They can be the difference between a conviction and an acquittal. When successful, these motions effectively render the unlawfully obtained evidence inadmissible, weakening the prosecution’s case and providing the defendant with a much better chance at trial. In many cases, the prosecution will be forced to withdraw some or all of the charges if a motion to suppress is granted.

What Is a Motion to Suppress?

Motions to suppress are legal requests made by the defense to exclude specific evidence from being used against the defendant in a criminal trial. These motions argue that the evidence in question was obtained illegally or in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights.

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As Forney criminal defense attorneys, the lawyers at Guest & Gray play a pivotal role in investigating, preparing and litigating motions to suppress. Motions to suppress are responsible for protecting our clients’ rights and ensuring a fair trial. Thus, our assistance can make a significant difference in the outcome of the motion and your overall case.

Selecting the Right Defense Attorney for Your Case

Choosing the right defense attorney is paramount in motions to suppress. It is essential to select an attorney with a proven track record in handling similar cases and a strong understanding of the intricacies involved. A capable defense attorney will thoroughly evaluate the circumstances surrounding the alleged constitutional violations and provide the needed guidance throughout the entire process. The experienced defense attorneys at Guest and Gray possess an in-depth understanding of criminal law and the constitutional protections afforded to individuals. We can identify potential grounds for filing a motion to suppress, gather evidence to support our clients’ claims, and craft persuasive arguments to present in court. Our expertise plays a crucial role in shaping the outcome of your case.

The Consequences of Successful and Unsuccessful Motions to Suppress

The consequences of both successful and unsuccessful motions to suppress can significantly impact the outcome of a criminal case. Understanding these implications is vital for defendants and their legal teams.

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When involved in a criminal investigation, it is crucial to understand that every word you say can significantly impact the outcome of your case. One common mistake individuals often make is giving a statement to law enforcement without consulting a criminal defense attorney first. In this blog post, we will discuss why it is of utmost importance to speak with a Rockwall criminal defense attorney at Guest & Gray before providing any statements during a criminal investigation.

Safeguarding Your Rights

When you find yourself under investigation, you must be aware of your constitutional rights, such as the right to remain silent and the right to legal counsel. By consulting a criminal defense attorney before speaking with law enforcement, you ensure that your rights are protected from the very beginning. Your attorney will guide you on when and how to respond to authorities while safeguarding your interests throughout the investigation.

Navigating Complex Legal Procedures

Criminal investigations involve intricate legal procedures that can be challenging to understand without proper legal knowledge. The dedicated defense attorneys at Guest & Gray are well-versed in the intricacies of the local legal system and can explain the investigation process to you. They will guide you through each step, ensuring you have a clear understanding of your rights and responsibilities, empowering you to make informed decisions.

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As a driver in Forney, TX, it is essential to understand your rights and responsibilities when it comes to vehicle searches. Law enforcement officers may request to search your vehicle, but it’s crucial to know that you have the right to refuse in certain situations. As criminal defense attorneys, we believe that police officers should follow the laws when investigating crimes. However, in our experience, officers routinely dupe unsuspecting motorists into feeling as though they have no choice but to consent when they, in fact, are under no obligation to allow a search.

In this blog post, we will explore when you can refuse a vehicle search and why consulting a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney in Forney, TX, is crucial to protecting your rights.

Fourth Amendment Protection

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. This protection extends to vehicle searches as well. Generally, law enforcement officers need either a valid search warrant or probable cause to conduct a search. Without these, you have the right to refuse a vehicle search.

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Speaking to detectives without legal representation exposes you to unnecessary risks. The consequences can be severe and often outweigh any perceived benefits of cooperating with the investigation. However, as experienced Forney criminal defense attorneys, we routinely see detectives engaging in questionable interrogation tactics that mislead unsuspecting people into making statements that are later used against them. Sometimes, prosecutors will even take your statements out of context to make it seem as though you were admitting to something you had no intention of admitting.

At Guest & Gray, anytime we receive a case involving a statement our client made to detectives, one of the first things we do is determine if the statement was taken in violation of their constitutional rights. If so, it isn’t admissible at trial.

Below are some of the most important reasons not to talk to a detective until you’ve spoken with a criminal defense attorney.

Potential Misinterpretation of Statements

During police interviews, statements made by individuals may be misinterpreted or taken out of context, leading to potential legal ramifications. Even innocent statements can be misconstrued and used against a person during a trial.

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In a recent case involving a motion to suppress evidence stemming from a traffic stop, a Texas Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court decision, holding that the police officer did not have reasonable suspicion to stop the defendant. The defendant was pulled over after the police officer claimed that the truck crossed the white line into an adjacent lane briefly. At trial, a grand jury returned an indictment charging the defendant with fraudulent possession of identifying information and forgery of a government instrument. The defendant subsequently filed a motion to suppress the evidence collected during the initial traffic stop.

Facts of the Case

According to the opinion, David Alfaro, an officer with the City of Corpus Christi Police Department, was the sole witness for the prosecution. Officer Alfaro testified that he observed a U-Haul truck parked at a fast food restaurant in Corpus Christi around 1:19 A.M. Officer Alfaro stated that he had received a notice to be on the lookout for a U-Haul truck that had been involved in multiple local burglaries. As a result, he followed the U-Haul in his marked patrol car onto the I-37 highway before observing the U-Haul truck’s fires cross the line into the adjacent lane briefly. Officer Alfaro then initiated a traffic stop based on his suspicion that the defendant failed to maintain the vehicle in a single lane.

At trial, the court admitted Officer Alfaro’s dash-cam video footage. The footage depicts the defendant’s U-Haul traveling in the center lane of a three-lane highway. The U-Haul truck is the only vehicle visible in the footage for the duration of the video. The passenger side rear tire of the U-Haul truck can be seen briefly straddling the lane divider after rounding a curve. The U-Haul truck then moves towards the opposite lane divide, remaining in its lane. Officer Alfaro then activated his patrol lights and initiated the traffic stop. The trial court found that Officer Alfaro lacked reasonable suspicion to stop the defendant and granted the defendant’s motion to suppress.

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