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When appealing a motion to suppress, is it considered a final order or non final order?

Tampa, FL |

I lost a motion to suppress, and then lost at trial a week later. I put in an appeal for the motion to suppress as a final appeal and the district court is asking me why the appeal should not be dismissed as from a nonfinal, nonappealable order. I cant afford an attorney.

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Attorney answers 3


Have you asked the court to appoint counsel for you? Trying to handle an appeal on your own is, as a rule, a pretty useless exercise. Preparing a notice of appeal properly, which is already giving you serious trouble, is a breeze compared with what comes after that.


The motion to suppress is nonfinal. Once you get sentenced you can appeal the final judgment in the case. That includes the motion to suppress. If you can't afford an attorney you should ask the court to appoint one.


I have to agree with my colleague that you are going to find it very difficult to practice in the District Court of Appeal. Representing one's own interests in a criminal proceeding at the trial level is difficult enough. The specificity of the Appellate Rules of Procedures, and the general lack of any relationship between those Rules and what one might call "common sense" or "logic" means that you are in essence starting from scratch. To some extent, certain matters of procedure; rules concerning the admissibility of evidence, and so on, which govern a great deal of what takes place at the Trial Court level, have come to exist (let me a certain extent) because they make sense, for lack of a better manner of phrasing the notion. An example is the manner in which one must authenticate a photograph which one intends to ultimately introduce into evidence. The predicate for the authentication of a photograph, makes sense, its logical. A generally intelligent individual, without any formal legal training, has at least a fair shot at deducing the questions about the photograph which must be asked in order to first authenticate the photograph and, later, to demonstrate its relevance and admissibility, and, finally, to complete the process by introducing it into evidence and having it published to the jury. A great deal of what happens at the appellate level, not to say the same it not true of many matters at the trial court level, are "outcome determinative". Procedures exist, candidly, because at the end of the day, certain results are those which are frequently obtained because there came a point in time when if this was not the case, certain matters which frequently arise and historically have been frequently arising for quite some time, would potentially have to be vacated and revisited. In other words, many issues are determined in a certain manner because if they were not, there would have been disastrous consequences to the system. If you think about it too much, it becomes very frightening, because in essence, some things have been deemed acceptable even though, fundamentally, almost everyone would agree that they are "wrong". Many would argue that this is how the "harmless error" doctrine came to exist. We'll save that for another day.

In your situation, to cite an example a bit closer to home, the State of Florida might very well have had (in fact, almost certainly had) the right to appeal the same Motion to Suppress concerning the very same evidence which was the subject of the Motion to Suppress which you "lost", or, better stated legally, was denied by the Trial Court, which allowed the evidence to be introduced at trial (I am assuming that the government laid the proper predicate and asked the proper questions concerning authentication; demonstrating relevance of the evidence to the charges which had been alleged; sought successfully to have the items deemed admissible; and ultimately had the physical items; alleged admissions; whatever the evidence at issue was admitted into evidence and made available to the jury (this is known as "publishing" the evidence to the jury). However, despite the denial of the Motion to Suppress, you still might have prevailed. An unlikely outcome, but nonetheless possible. After one is found guilt, sentencing must occur. There may be additional and distinct errors committed during this process which a Defendant might wish to appeal. Therefore, the denial of the Motion to Suppress could have been simply one of many potential errors with respect to which you may seek appellate review (i.e. it was a non-final Order). By contrast, had the Motion to Suppress been granted, the State may have sought a stipulation that it could not possibly have gone forward, nolle prossed the case in its entirety, thereby rendering it a final order. If you can not afford to hire an attorney, you absolutely need to request that the court appoint the public defender to appeal this matter.

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