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What Is The Value Of Excluding Evidence Or Testimony?

One of the most basic tools of a criminal defense lawyer is the motion to exclude. This is a request that the judge bar the prosecution from entering either evidence or testimony into the record. For example, the police might have illegally obtained a piece of evidence by misrepresenting their reasons for getting a warrant. The criminal defense attorney would then ask the court to exclude the evidence. This article will look at the defense value of excluding evidence or testimony.

Evidence Guides Cases

Frequently, a few key pieces of evidence will determine where a criminal case is going. An extreme example would be a drug possession case where the judge excluded all the drug samples recovered from the scene of an arrest. It would be difficult for the prosecution to proceed with the case if they can't point to alleged narcotics.

Sometimes testimony serves the same purpose. If the prosecution wants to introduce an interview or a deposition from a witness, for example, they have to justify how they obtained it. The witness testimony could be central to claims that the defendant committed a crime, and excluding the testimony could hollow out the prosecution's case.

One Motion Leads to Another

While a criminal defense lawyer can't guarantee this sort of success, it is the ideal scenario if they can pull it off. A motion to dismiss a case could damage the prosecution's case so thoroughly that the defense then moves for the judge to dismiss the case or reduce the charges.

Avoiding Accelerated Penalties

Even if the case can go forward with other evidence, excluding certain materials could help a defendant avoid some accelerated penalties. For example, many criminal offenses have heightened penalties if a gun was involved. Consequently, excluding the evidence of the presence of a gun might take this sort of penalty off the table for the prosecution.

Improved Negotiating Position

Whenever a prosecutor elects to go to trial with a case, they have to consider how far they want to push it and whether they ought to negotiate with the defense. After a judge grants a motion to exclude evidence or testimony, the prosecution might not feel as confident about going to trial. They might approach the criminal defense attorney about the possibility of pleading guilty to a lesser charge. For example, the prosecution might offer to lower a felony case with jail time to a misdemeanor without any. Depending on the circumstances, a defendant might decide this is the best way to wrap things up.

For more information, contact a criminal defense lawyer near you.