The meaning of the word “quash” is to suppress, extinguish, reject or void something.

The term is commonly used in a legal setting.

A motion to quash is a formal request that a court cancel or void some legal action. For example one may ask a court to quash an invalid warrant or quash a conviction on appeal.

Motion To Quash Arrest

In Illinois criminal court, the use of the term “motion to quash” has become outdated. It’s common to see attorneys file a “motion to quash arrest” with the court.

In a strict legal sense “voiding” an arrest is something that court’s don’t do.

Nonetheless, courts generally treat and inturpret a “motion to quash arrest” as a “motion to supress evidence.” “Criminal practice does not recognize a Motion to Quash Arrest standing alone; rather, it only recognizes a Motion to Quash Arrest and to Suppress Evidence.” Timothy P. O’Neill, Criminal Defense Lawyers Need Broad Knowledge, Chicago Daily Law Bulletin, Oct. 8, 2010, at 5. See also People v. Ramirez, 2013 IL App (4th) 121153, ¶ 93 (October).

By titling a motion as a motion to quash arrest and suppress evidence, counsel alerts the trial court to the nature of the issue, i.e., an illegal arrest that may result in the suppression of evidence. People v. Ramirez, 2013 IL App (4th) 121153, ¶ 94 (October).

There Is No Such Thing As A “Motion To Quash Arrest”

Yet, a “Motion to quash arrest” is nowhere recognized in the Code of Criminal Procedure of 1963 (Code) (see 725 ILCS 5/100-1 through 122-7).

Therefore, a defendant should never title his motion a “motion to quash arrest.” That is clearly wrong. The relevant section in the code is entitled “Motion to Suppress Evidence Illegally Seized,” and sets forth the procedure to be used when a defendant, who is “aggrieved by an unlawful search and seizure,” seeks to suppress the evidence that the police obtained as the result thereof.

725 ILCS 5/114-12(a).

That section contains no reference to “quashing arrests.” 

The Problem With Filing A Motion To Quash Arrest

The main problem with a motion to arrest is that it does not track the language of a proper motion to suppresses evidence as listed in the Illinois Code of Criminal Procedure.

Typically, a motion to quash arrest

(1) Does not correctly state its purpose,
(2) Identifies no evidence that the trial court should suppress if the court were to find that an unlawful search or seizure occurred, and
(3) Fails to show wherein the search and seizure of that evidence (whatever it may be) was unlawful.

A motion to suppress is, in effect, a pleading to the extent that it frames the issues to be determined in a pretrial hearing on the motion. The fundamental role of a pleading is to give an opposing party notice of the pleader’s position concerning the facts and law so that the opposing party can begin to prepare his defense.

A pleading also must ask, in very specific terms, the court to do something. It defines and limits the areas of consideration at a trial or other evidentiary hearing, by enabling the court to determine the relevance of offered evidence.

A motion to quash arrest fails at almost every basic requirement of a court pleading.

How To File A Proper Motion To Suppress Evidence

Motions to suppress filed pursuant to section 114-12 of the Code must clearly set forth at a minimum the following:

(1) The title of the motion should be “Motion to Suppress Evidence”. That title will put both the State and the court on notice of the motion’s purpose.

(2) The motion to suppress must clearly identify the evidence sought to be suppressed. Although this requirement is not set forth explicitly in section 114-12 of the Code, its presence is clearly evident. Before conducting a hearing on the motion, the parties and the court must know what evidence is at issue.  Both parties and the court need to know the evidence that is the focus of the motion if for no other reason than to determine the relevancy of the evidence offered at the hearing on the motion.

(3) The motion must state facts showing wherein the search and seizure were unlawful.

See 725 ILCS 5/114-12(b).

See Also