5 Types of Pre-Trial Motions in Criminal Court
5 Common Pre-Trial Motions in Criminal Cases
What many defendants don’t know is that their case doesn’t always have to go to trial. Once a case lands in trial, a defendant’s freedom and future are in the hands of a judge and jury. While trials can be effective, they are not always necessary, as they cost a lot of time, money, energy and resources. That’s why a good attorney will negotiate for the best possible outcome for their client before going to trial; there’s a good chance the case will get resolved without the help of a judge and jury.
To best achieve a fair outcome in a criminal case, prosecutors and defense attorneys alike can file motions to the court requesting that a decision be made on a particular issue before the trial begins. Motions can alter the course and outcome of a case, as trials, courtrooms, defendants, evidence and testimonies can be impacted.
You must be aware that motions are not pleadings but rather requests for a judge to make a legal ruling. Among the most common pre-trial motions include:
- Motion to Suppress: This motion attempts to restrict certain statements and evidence from being introduced as evidence at trial. For instance, if your lawyer determines that the police lacked probable cause to arrest you, they may file a motion to suppress the statements you made to law enforcement following your arrest.
- Motion to Discover. A motion involving one party seeking information from the opposing party. Discovery is a formal process in which both parties exchange information regarding the witnesses and evidence they plan to present at trial to prevent “trial by ambush,” meaning one party is thrown off by the other party’s introduction of evidence and thus has no time to gather responding evidence.
- Motion to Dismiss: An attempt to get the judge to dismiss a charge or case altogether. Typically, when there is not enough evidence to prove a crime or the alleged facts at-hand, whether they are true or not, do not constitute an offense, your lawyer may file a Motion to Dismiss.
- Motion for Summary Judgment: This motion asks the court for a judgment on the key facts of the case before a trial begins. If there is no dispute between both parties on the facts in question, then your lawyer may file a summary judgment motion to request that a judge apply the law to undisputed facts and make a summary judgment. Remember, the purpose of a judge and jury is to decide what the facts are, but if both parties agree on the facts in question, then there is no need for a trial and a summary judgment motion can resolve the case instead.
- Motion for Change of Venue: Many times, this motion is filed to better prevent pre-trial publicity, which could create biases in prospective jurors. If the case is widely discussed on the news, your attorney may file a Motion for Change of Venue to move the trial to a different court to protect your Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, our Fort Worth criminal defense lawyer will file pre-trial motions on your behalf to give you the highest chances of receiving a fair and beneficial outcome in your situation. As a former prosecutor, our attorney knows how the prosecution strategizes their attacks against defendants and will utilize it to benefit our clients in any way possible, such as by getting charges reduced or thrown out completely.
It is better to discuss your case with a trusted attorney right away to maximize your chances of securing a successful result, which is why we encourage you to contact The Clark Law Firm at (817) 435-4970 today!