Robert Kraft was formerly known for one thing—winning six Super Bowl rings as owner of the New England Patriots; but he is now known for his involvement in a multi-million-dollar sex-trafficking operation.
In February 2019, Robert Kraft was charged with soliciting prostitution, a misdemeanor, in Jupiter, Florida. Allegedly, he engaged in sexual encounters on numerous occasions with masseuses at Orchids of Asia Day Spa. These encounters were secretly recorded on video. Soon after these charges were filed, Kraft’s attorneys filed a Motion to Suppress this evidence.
Today’s blog uses Robert Kraft’s case to discuss Motions to Suppress and their legal implications.
What is a Motion to Suppress?
A Motion to Suppress is a request by a defendant in a criminal case that asks a judge exclude certain evidence from trial. These motions are generally submitted to the courts long before the trial starts. Motions to Suppress may require oral argument before a judge and may even require a full evidentiary hearing.
If the judge grants a Motion to Suppress, the evidence in question must be excluded and cannot be submitted for consideration by the judge or jury. In other words, the evidence is treated as if it does not exist.
Kraft’s Motion to Suppress
Kraft and his defense team moved to suppress video tape evidence that allegedly showed him engaging in sexual acts with masseuses. The defense team argued that police officers posed as repairmen and installed cameras illegally.
The Court ultimately granted this motion in favor of Kraft. In his ten (10) page ruling, Judge Leonard Hanser explained that Jupiter police and the judge who issued the search warrant allowing the secret installation of cameras at the spa did not do enough to minimize the invasion of privacy of customers who only received legal massages. Hanser wrote, “[t]he fact that some totally innocent women and men had their entire lawful time spent in a massage room fully recorded and viewed intermittently by a detective-monitor is unacceptable.”
What Will Happen in Kraft’s Case Now?
Without the video evidence, presumably the only evidence against Kraft, prosecutors will have a difficult, if not impossible job ahead. In a criminal trial, the prosecution must prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. This high standard will be difficult to meet without this damning evidence. Therefore, prosecutors may decide to dismiss the case. If not, the case will proceed to a trial at a later date, without the evidence, and a judge or jury will have to decide Kraft’s guilt or innocence.
When Should a Defendant File a Motion to Suppress?
A criminal defendant may move to suppress evidence through his/her attorney if the defendant believes their constitutional rights have been violated in some way. Some common reasons to file a Motion to Suppress include:
- Unlawful Search and Seizure– The Fourth Amendment protects individuals against unlawful searches and seizures. Generally, police must have search warrant, fully supported by probable cause, before they are able to conduct a search, unless an exception to the warrant rule applies. If an exception does not apply and the police did not receive a warrant, a Motion to Suppress may be appropriate. If granted, all evidence obtained from the unlawful search would be suppressed.
- Failure to Read Miranda Rights– The law requires all police officers to read a suspect in custody their Miranda rights prior to interrogation. The Miranda warnings include the right to remain silent, that fact that anything said can and will be used in court, and the right to counsel (and if the suspect is indigent, counsel will be appointed). If a suspect has not been “Mirandized,” any statements made to the police can be suppressed, in addition to any evidence that was obtained after the statement, if the statement lead to the discovery of said evidence.
- Chain of Custody Errors– “Chain of custody” refers to that proper care of evidence. The law implements many safeguards to care for evidence so that there is a record of the sequence of custody/control/analysis/and disposition of all evidence that will ultimately be used in a case. If there is a chain of custody issue at trial, it is likely evidence may be excluded.
- Identifications– Photo identifications and line-ups will commonly be suppressed if police to do follow the proper protocol when displaying photos and/or potential suspects to witnesses.
What If I Am Currently Facing a Crime with Evidence That Seems Inadmissible? What Now?
If you are facing criminal charges in Rhode Island and believe that there may be issues in your case that warrant a Motion to Suppress, you should discuss your case immediately with an experienced criminal defense attorney. The outcome of your trial is dependent upon the evidence admitted in court, whether or not it is in your favor. Don’t wait to contact an attorney- Motions to Suppress should be filed early in a case.
For more information, contact the skilled Rhode Island criminal defense attorneys at Abilheira Law today for a free, confidential consultation. Call us now at (401) 245-5100 or fill out our online form!