Suppress Evidence from Illegal Search Preliminary Hearing In California

People v. Hansel (1992) concerned a due process challenge to the procedure provided by section 1538.5, subdivision (i). That statute allows a defendant to suppress evidence obtained from an illegal search or seizure by bringing a suppression motion at the preliminary hearing. The defendant may renew the motion in superior court if the magistrate denies the motion at the preliminary hearing. However, the defendant is limited to presenting the preliminary hearing transcript and introducing only evidence that could not have been presented at the preliminary hearing. Determining whether this statutory scheme satisfied due process, the Supreme Court noted the two suppression hearings could not be viewed in isolation from each other. This was clear from the limited scope of evidence admissible in the superior court following the hearing by the magistrate at the preliminary hearing. "However, when all the provisions for litigating the validity of a search or seizure are viewed as a whole, they clearly afford criminal defendants a fair opportunity to litigate their claims." (People v. Hansel, supra, 1 Cal. 4th at p. 1220.)