November 11, 2010 | Posted in Criminal Defense

By Tim George
Erie PA DUI & Criminal Defense Lawyer

In Pennsylvania, if you face criminal allegations, and you or your lawyer believes that evidence has been obtained by police in violation of your rights, you may seek to have the evidence "suppressed" or excluded from your case. This can be done by filing a suppression motion with the Court after your preliminary hearing. (The motion must be filed by a certain time or you will waive or give up your rights.) What you allege in your motion depends upon the unique circumstances in you case. The purpose of this article is to give you a glimpse into what happens at a suppression hearing.

After your motion is filed, the Court will set a date and time for a suppression hearing. The prosecutor, your lawyer and you must appear at this hearing. The police officers involved in your case usually attend this hearing, too. This hearing does not occur before a jury. (Remember, a suppression hearing is not a trial at which the judge will decide guilt. Instead, the judge will decide only whether your rights were violated in the course of gathering evidence which will be offered against you.)

The Commonwealth always bears the burden of proof and this also true here where the defense has challenged the manner in which evidence was obtained by police. So, the prosecutor will begin by having one or more police officers testify about what they did and why. Your lawyer will cross-examine each officer. After the Commonwelath rests (decides that no more testimony will be offered in support of its position that your rights were not violated), you can offer evidence, too. You can call witnesses, offer documents or pictures if they are relevant.

In the end, the lawyers will give arguments and the judge will issue findings of fact and conclusions of law. These conclusions of law determine whether or not the evidence was obtained in violation of your constitutional rights. If so, the evidence will be suppressed (excluded at trial). The following transcript from a recent suppression hearing illustrates what happens when a hearing is successful. Here, the question was whether the police violated the motorist's constitutional rights when they searched his pockets and then his car following a routine motor vehicle stop.

Tim George defends allegations of DUI, reckless driving, careless driving, accidents involving injury or property damage and other serious charges like homicide by motor vehicle, manslaughter, aggravated assault, simple assault, retail theft, burglary, robbery, and sexual assault. He appears in Magisterial District Courts (often called Districe Justice offices) throughout Northwestern Pennsylvania, including Erie, Millcreek, Fairview, Girard, Albion, Springfield, Platea, McKean, Edinboro, Lawrence Park, Wesleyville, Harborcreek, North East, Corry, Meadville, Sandy Lake, Conneaut Lake, Franklin, Oil City and Warren. He has also defended people in the Court of Common Pleas of Erie County, Crawford County, Warren County, Venango County, Mercer County, Clarion County and Jefferson County. He has argued cases on appeal before the Commonwealth Court, Superior Court and Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.

If you or someone close to you was recently arrested for DUI in Erie or elsewhere in northwest Pennsylvania, visit www.YourErieDUILawyer.com or call (814) 835-0400 to discuss your case today.