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Can Illegally Obtained Evidence Be Used Against You?

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ. | Jul 15, 2020

When can illegally obtained evidence be used against you, if at all?

Evidence that is illegally obtained is usually not going to be able to be used against the defendant in a criminal case. However, sometimes, a defendant or their attorney will think that the evidence was obtained illegally but the prosecutor and the police will make the argument that the evidence was legally obtained.

One example is a statement illegally obtained from a defendant where someone was arrested, put in the back of a police car, and then asked questions without being read their Miranda rights.

The whole purpose of the Miranda rights is to allow the person the opportunity to not speak to the police if they choose not to. The police are supposed to read them their Miranda rights but they often do not.

If the defendant takes the witness stand and says something different than what they said in the statement, then the judge is likely to let the police use the statement that they took illegally.

Another example of illegally obtained evidence would be if someone was at another person's house and the police came in and executed an illegal search and found something illegal on the person who was visiting.

The person may not have standing to challenge the search warrant because it is not their house being searched. Even though the warrant was illegally obtained, prosecutors are going to argue that the visitor does not have any standing.

What do Police Need to Get a Search Warrant?

In order to get a search warrant, police are going to need to be able to show that there is probable cause. For example, a neighbor thinks that another neighbor is selling illegal drugs out of their house. They call the police.

Can Illegally Obtained Evidence Be Used Against You?

That is not enough for the police to be able to get a search warrant and go into someone's house. If it was, neighbors could use the police to harass each other with false allegations. There has to be probable cause and a magistrate or a judge has to sign a warrant.

The police will need to watch the house and surveil it. They could even try to buy drugs from someone in the house to justify a search. Even if the defendant is involved in criminal activity, there must be something illegal at that specific location in order for the police to get inside.

Common Mistakes By Police Performing a Search

What are some mistakes that you have seen police make when they are making an arrest or performing a search? Most of the time, I see the police being lazy and cutting corners; they just ignore all the rules and do what they want to do.

For example, police will pull someone over, tell them to get out of the car, and search their car. They don't actually put in the good police work to show a judge that a particular defendant, if they were to search him or his location, would have some sort of contraband. This is illegal.

I once had a client who was outside of his house, unloading his car. He happened to be unloading a large quantity of drugs out of the car, but there was no way for anyone else to know that because they were wrapped up in packages.

Meanwhile, the police began a pursuit of someone who ditched their car and started running on foot. The person happened to run down my client's driveway and drop a gun on his way through. The police, of course, can pursue the person onto private property.

They can grab the gun because the gun is evidence. However, what these police officers did is give up, since the guy got away, and instead searched my client's house and car. They found 30 pounds of marijuana and an assault rifle.

I had to file a motion with the judge claiming that that the search of my client, his car, and his house was illegal because they did not have probable cause. They had no connection to my client and no probable cause to go into the car or the house.

Motion to Suppress Evidence – Penal Code 1583.5

If they thought that there was, then they should have gotten a warrant from a judge. Instead, they just went into the house and searched it. At the preliminary hearing, the judge granted my motion to suppress all the evidence. California Penal Code 1583.5 defines a motion to suppress evidence.

Once the evidence was suppressed, the prosecutors had to dismiss the case. This is why you need a great Los Angeles criminal defense attorney to come in and make sure the police are doing things the right way. If they are not, we can challenge them and try to get rid of the case.

Hedding Law Firm is a criminal defense law firm located in Los Angeles County at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. Contact us for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0979.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

Ronald D. Hedding, Esq., is the founding member of the Hedding Law Firm. Mr. Hedding has an extensive well-rounded legal background in the area of Criminal Law. He has worked for the District Attorney's Office, a Superior Court Judge, and as the guiding force behind the Hedding Law Firm. His multi-faceted experience sets Mr. Hedding apart and puts him in an elite group of the best Criminal Defense Attorneys in Southern California.