Anatomy of a Motion to Suppress
Each Motion to Suppress starts out the exact same way. The first thing that you need to keep in mind is that a Motion to Suppress is based on a violation of an individual’s constitutional rights or some other reason to trigger the exclusionary rule. A Motion to Suppress is not the proper motion to file regarding evidence that is inadmissible under the applicable rules of evidence. The proper pretrial motion for evidentiary issues is a Motion in Limine or Motion to Exclude.
1) After the itemized list of evidence that you want suppressed, don’t use numbered paragraphs. It prohibits you from being able to tell a clear concise story. I’ve never had a judge complain or even point it out.
2) Any document that is mentioned in the motion to suppress should be attached as an exhibit. For example, police reports are typically not admissible in evidentiary hearings. However, if I am writing about a police officer’s actions, I attach his police report and say “A copy of Officer Jones’ Police Report is attached and made a part hereof as exhibit ‘A’.” That way, the Judge will read it……..usually.
Section I, Caption: All motions begin with a caption which tells the reader the court, names of the parties, case number, division(Judge) and title of the motion.
Section II, Preamble: This is pretty much standard language that you can use every time. Always cite to the authority under which you are filing the motion. It makes you look smart and it also provides the court with guidance as to how to handle the motion. DO NOT make judges do their own research.
Sections III & IV, the evidence: Initially, specifically state what you want suppressed. After that, throw in a “catch all” clause. I typically use “Any and all evidence which the State intends to introduce at trial” or something to that effect.
Section V, Grounds: Florida Rule of Criminal Procedure 3.190 specifically states that you must set forth the basis for which you are seeking to suppress the evidence. Cite to specific provisions of the United States and State Constitution.
Section VI, Facts: Don’t argue the law in the facts.
Section VII, Law: How the law applies to your facts.
Section VIII: Request for Relief
Section IX: Certificate of Service
Section X: Signature Box