What is a Motion to Suppress in Florida?

Posted by Fred Koberlein | Sep 04, 2019 | 0 Comments

A motion to suppress is a motion filed with the court to keep certain information from being heard at trial by the jury or judge. There are three types of suppression motions: a motion to suppress physical evidence, a motion to suppress confession or admission, and a motion to suppress an identification. We will discuss each of the three types in more detail below. These motions can be used even when the information being suppressed or kept out is true, but the way the police obtained the information was either unconstitutional or a serious violation of the procedure that was supposed to be used. Suppression motions are best if they are made prior to trial. This allows the motion to be argued at a hearing prior to trial and avoids delays during the trial. If the defendant testifies at the suppression motion hearing, the testimony given cannot be used against him or her at trial to prove guilt unless he or she fails to object to the use.

Motion to Suppress Physical Evidence

A motion to suppress physical evidence is typically used to argue that the evidence should be excluded because the search or seizure of evidence was against the defendant's constitutional right. The motion has to clearly identify what evidence the party is trying to suppress and the reason the evidence should be suppressed. That means just saying that the evidence should be suppressed because the search was illegal is not enough.

Evidence could be suppressed because it was found in a stop where there was no reasonable suspicion or probable cause, it was found based on a search warrant without probable cause or consent to search, it was found through outrageous police misconduct, or the evidence was found without a warrant when a warrant was required. Before a hearing, the court will determine if the defendant's motion is legally sufficient. If the judge finds that the motion is sufficient, he or she must hold a hearing where the defendant presents evidence supporting the suppression, and the State has a chance to argue against the suppression. After the defendant argues their side, it is the State's responsibility to show that the evidence was obtained appropriately.

Motion to Suppress a Confession or Admission

A motion to suppress a confession or admission is used to argue that a confession or admission was not freely or voluntarily given. The motion must explain to the court the facts necessary to decide whether the confession or admission was illegally obtained. Confessions can be involuntary because the police coerced a defendant through force, deprivation, or threats and promises. An admission could also be illegal because the police officer failed to inform the defendant of his or her Miranda rights prior to police interrogation. Another example is the lack of counsel during police interrogation after counsel has been appointed or hired. 

Once a defendant attacks the voluntariness of his or her confession or admission, the State has to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the confession or admission was free and voluntary. That means the State must show that more likely than not, the defendant confessed or admitted freely and voluntarily.

Motion to Suppress an Identification

Finally, a motion to suppress an identification is used to keep out a pretrial identification of the defendant when the procedure violates due process. Identification procedures are illegal if it was suggestive, and the suggestiveness affected the probability of misidentification. A pretrial identification procedure can be improper because:

  • The defendant stands out in a lineup based on age, size, or clothing;
  • An officer makes comments that taint the identification process; or
  • The defendant is shown alone to the witness in a show-up identification.

After the defendant shows that the identification process was improper, the defendant must also show that the procedure created a risk of misidentification. There are five factors the court considers for the influence of the suggestive procedure:

  1. The opportunity of the witness to view the perpetrator at the time of the crime;
  2. The witness's degree of attention;
  3. The accuracy of the witness's prior description of the perpetrator;
  4. The level of certainty demonstrated by the witness at the time of confrontation; and
  5. Length of time between the crime and the confrontation.

There are three types of suppression motions that each protects a defendant's right to a fair trial. A motion to suppress can keep physical evidence, a confession or admission, or a pretrial identification out of trial. Most of the time, the motion will be heard before trial and any testimony from the motion hearing with not be used against the defendant at trial.

About the Author

Fred Koberlein

Fred Koberlein is a trial attorney who opened Koberlein Law Offices after acquiring extensive legal experience in three legal practice areas, which are: personal injury law; criminal defense; and local government matters which require you to appear or present your matter before your local government Boards, government Councils, and government Agencies. Mr. Koberlein began trial preparation through an externship as a legal clerk with the Judges of the Third Judicial Circuit for Florida prior to his graduation from the University of Florida, College of Law.  After law school Mr. Koberlein was dedicated to becoming a trial attorney and worked with the Public Defender's Office from 2004 to 2007, where he was promoted to handling felony cases within eight months of hire.  Mr.  Koberlein has handled over 1500 criminal cases ranging from possession of cannabis, DUI, serious felonies, white-collar crimes, violations of probation hearings, and countless motion hearings. Mr.  Koberlein began practicing in the areas of personal injury and insurance defense during 2006.  Mr. Koberlein's experience in prosecuting personal injury claims against those insurance companies he was not representing and defending other insurance companies and their customers provided a unique experience where he was able to learn what each side anticipates from the opposing party.Next, Mr. Koberlein was hired by a City to defend the City's interests and three additional Cities quickly followed and retained Mr. Koberlein to protect their interests.  Currently, Mr. Koberlein represents a total of four (4) municipalities in the North Florida area.  As Mr. Koberlein focused on civil litigation he remained passionate about representing individuals charged with misdemeanor and felony crimes as well as civil litigation issues. Mr.  Koberlein has the experience and reputation to negotiate a favorable resolution in your matter, and if that is not possible, to provide the best, most zealous trial representation available.  Utilizing competent and trusted investigators and experts, your case will be prepared so that the best result will be achieved.  If you or a loved one is hurt, damaged, or is facing criminal charges, you want a qualified, hard-working attorney who will explain your options to you in a straightforward, commonsense, and honest manner. Education and Practice Experience: University of Florida; Gainesville, Florida; Bachelor of Science, 1997 University of South Florida; Tampa, Florida; 1998 University of Florida, College of Law; Gainesville, Florida; 2003 Bar and Court Admissions: Florida Bar, 2004 – Present All 67 Counties in Florida All 20 Circuits in Florida U.S. District Court, Middle District of Florida U.S. District Court, Northern District of Florida Professional and Civic Activities: Florida Bar Trial Lawyers, 2007 – Present Florida Bar Business Law Section, 2007 – Present Florida Bar Criminal Law Section, 2004 – Present Florida Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, 2004 – Present Third Judicial Bar Association, 2004 – Present Mr.  Koberlein is committed to his clients and devotes himself to protecting their interests from the beginning to the end of their case.  Mr. Koberlein has spent his career helping clients defend themselves against criminal charges, fight insurance companies, and proceed through the bureaucratic process of local governments.  Mr. Koberlein welcomes the opportunity to meet with you and evaluate your legal needs and provide you with an experienced and competent analysis.


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