Suppression Of Evidence Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Suppression Of Evidence, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Suppression Of Evidence?

(n) Suppression of evidence is the action by which a prosecutor who obtains information by virtue of his authority hide such evidences which he is bound to reveal to the defended, when the defense is unaware of it. Suppression of evidence is a violation of 5th amendment of constitution leading to reversal of orders, contempt of court etc.

History and Meaning of Suppression Of Evidence

Suppression of evidence is a legal term used to describe the act of a prosecutor hiding evidence that they are legally obligated to reveal to the defense. This practice violates the Fifth Amendment of the US Constitution which guarantees the right to due process of law. The courts have held that prosecutors have a legal and ethical obligation to disclose exculpatory evidence that is favorable to the defendant. The suppression of such evidence can lead to serious consequences, such as contempt of court, reversal of orders, and even dismissal of the case.

The concept of suppression of evidence dates back to the middle of the 20th century when the US Supreme Court held that due process required prosecutors to disclose to the defense any evidence that could be favorable to the accused. Prior to this landmark decision, prosecutors enjoyed broad immunity and could withhold evidence without any repercussions. Today, the practice of suppression of evidence is illegal, and prosecutors who engage in such conduct face severe sanctions, including disbarment.

Examples of Suppression Of Evidence

  1. In a murder trial, the prosecution fails to disclose to the defense that the primary witness, who testified that they saw the defendant at the crime scene, had a history of lying.
  2. In a drug trafficking case, the prosecutor withholds the fact that the primary informant in the case was a known drug dealer and had received favorable treatment in exchange for his cooperation.
  3. In a criminal trial, the prosecution intentionally conceals the fact that the police officers who conducted the search of the defendant's property did not have a valid search warrant.

Legal Terms Similar to Suppression Of Evidence

  1. Brady material: Evidence that is favorable to the defendant and material to the case, which the prosecution is required to disclose under the Brady rule.
  2. Exculpatory evidence: Evidence that tends to prove the defendant's innocence or reduce their culpability.
  3. Discovery: The process by which the prosecution and defense exchange evidence before trial.