March 22, 2022
Summary: Filing a Motion to Suppress removes any evidence that was obtained illegally in a case. Here's SoloSuit's guide on using this type of motion.
A Motion to Suppress is a formal request made by a defendant to exclude certain evidence in a case during trial. The motion is filed with the court and considered by the judge. A hearing where the parties can make arguments for, or against, the motion may be necessary.
The concept of making a Motion to Suppress available to parties involved in a legal action stems from another legal principle: the exclusionary rule. This rule was created to prevent evidence that was collected or obtained illegally from seeing the light of day at a jury trial. Most commonly, the exclusionary rule is exercised in a criminal case where a defendant is arguing their constitutional rights were violated by members of law enforcement during an illegal search and seizure of their home, vehicle, etc.
That being said, this type of motion is not usually brought up in civil cases (and, therefore, debt lawsuits). Rather, it's a motion that is common in criminal cases.
It is possible to file a Motion to Suppress at varying points throughout the course of a lawsuit. Nevertheless, a Motion to Suppress is most often filed prior to trial when both parties have an understanding of what evidence each party wants to try and present to the court. A Motion to Suppress typically claims that a piece of evidence, or all evidence, should be excluded from trial due to its improper collection or seizure by the other party.
It is also important to know the rules and filing deadlines for civil lawsuits, which includes debt collection lawsuits, in your state. Why? Because you need to know the specific deadline that applies to filing a Motion to Suppress after the plaintiff serves you with a lawsuit.
Filing a Motion to Suppress a piece of evidence, or multiple pieces of evidence, is usually connected to the search, seizure, and mismanagement of that evidence by the other party. The most common reasons to file a Motion to Suppress include:
Like we mentioned before, filing a Motion to Suppress is not a common practice in debt lawsuits. Filing a Motion to Dismiss is similar and much more appropriate in such cases.
Legally, if the plaintiff cannot prove their claim against you, then their case won't stand in court. This explains why experts recommend citing 'lack of knowledge' as a response to the debt collection lawsuit. Apart from compelling the other party to prove their allegations, this strategy also allows the plaintiff to buy more time to consult even further on how best to tackle the lawsuit.
The plaintiff will most likely present evidence that you owe the stated amount. This evidence could be in the form of written agreements signed by you. However, just because the other party has a copy of the written agreement doesn't necessarily mean that you owe the debt. Here's why.
When you owe your creditors a certain amount of money, they may try to recover it within the first few weeks. But if they can't get a hold of you, usually between 90 and 180 days, they'll send you a letter to let you know that they'll hand over the debt account to collections.
This basically means that they'll sell off your debt to a debt collection agency. Creditors do this to save the time, energy, and resources required to pursue an old debt. Because their main business model is based on helping consumers acquire loans, they may not have the time or resources to pursue multiple consumers when they fail to honor their part of the agreement.
That's where a debt collection agency comes in. Unlike creditors, debt collectors specialize in following up on old debt, hoping to recover it in part or whole. These agencies buy debt from creditors for a fraction of the original cost and then try to recover the full amount. This means they make a huge profit off the consumer.
In the process, the debt could switch hands multiple times. For example, a debt collector can sell the debt to multiple collection agencies, usually referred to as junk debt buyers. There's no limit to the number of junk debt buyers who may purchase your debt. As a result, the debt might switch hands several times.
The biggest challenge with this system is that, as the debt switches hands, the original information could be manipulated somewhere along the way, either intentionally or unintentionally. In addition, some debt collection agencies might even sue you for debt that you don't owe. This could be a case of mistaken identity, identity theft, or anything in between.
Regardless of the reason, you can ask the court to suppress particular evidence tabled against you by the plaintiff. If the court accepts your Motion to Suppress evidence, the case is dismissed.
As mentioned earlier, your debt could switch hands several times before you even get sued. Therefore, you may be surprised to find out that the debt details have also changed throughout the process. For this reason, when you are contacted about a debt you owe, it's important that you request a debt validation before you agree to making any payments on the account.. You can do this by sending a Debt Validation Letter, which requires the collector to prove certain information about the debt before filing a lawsuit (i.e. the exact amount owed, who actually owns the debt, etc).
If there is already a lawsuit filed against you, there is still hope. You should respond to the court Summons and Complaint by filing a written Answer. As a part of your Answer, you should state your affirmative defenses. This is where you get to give your side of the story. An affirmative defense is basically a declaration that explains why the plaintiff does not have a case.
For instance, if the debt is time-barred, you can use this factor as an affirmative defense against the plaintiff's claims.
However, if everything about the debt is accurate and you believe you owe the stated amount, you can negotiate with the debt collector. Most debt collectors are always willing to negotiate because they have nothing to lose in the process. In fact, negotiation confirms your commitment to paying off the debt, and that's better than not responding at all. But, on the other hand, failure to respond to a debt collection comes with dire consequences.
For more tips and tricks on reaching a settlement with the collector, check out the video below. SoloSuit's founder, George Simons, explains 3 helpful tips for negotiating a settlement that is ideal for you:
It's much more difficult to obtain a favorable outcome in a debt collection lawsuit if you don't respond to a court Summons or Complaint letter. For instance, if you don't appear in court as the judge requires, the plaintiff will win the case automatically. The judge will then pass a default judgment against you.
This kind of judgment gives the plaintiff legal authority to pursue every means possible to recover the debt as long as it's done within the confines of the law. For example, they can garnish your wages, seize your property, among other things.
SoloSuit makes it easy to respond to a debt collection lawsuit.
How it works: SoloSuit is a step-by-step web-app that asks you all the necessary questions to complete your answer. Upon completion, you can either print the completed forms and mail in the hard copies to the courts or you can pay SoloSuit to file it for you and to have an attorney review the document.
"First time getting sued by a debt collector and I was searching all over YouTube and ran across SoloSuit, so I decided to buy their services with their attorney reviewed documentation which cost extra but it was well worth it! SoloSuit sent the documentation to the parties and to the court which saved me time from having to go to court and in a few weeks the case got dismissed!" – James
You can ask your questions on the SoloSuit forum and the community will help you out. Whether you need help now or are just looking for support, we're here for you.
Here's a list of guides for other states.
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Need more info on statutes of limitations? Read our 50-state guide.
Need help managing your finances? Check out these resources.