What Are Motions in Criminal Cases?

During court proceedings, both sides can make requests to the judge. These are known as motions in criminal cases.  Motions can be made in a written format or orally.

Motions include such requests to dismiss certain charges, to set a different date for a trial and even to dismiss a case completely.

On the courtroom TV dramas, we often see each side submitting repeated motions to the judge during the trial.

However, motions can be made before a trial, during the hearing, or even after a trial. The initial stage of a motion involves giving notice to the opposing party of the intent to file a motion. Attorneys should not randomly file motions. There should be legal precedent and reasoning put forward before a motion can be filed.

Motions in criminal cases

Motions in criminal cases are important

After the filing of a motion, there will be a hearing giving each side the opportunity to make arguments for and against it.

Both sides can make arguments for or against the motion. Sometimes the attorneys will reach an agreement about certain facts and issues. This is called a stipulation. Courts favor stipulations because they speed up the issue but they typically need to be approved by a judge.

Defendants are not given complete control over motions, especially those made during a trial.

Motions in criminal cases are either pretrial motions, trial motions or post-trial motions.

Pretrial Motions

Motions made before a criminal trial may include:

  • The dismissal of the case
  • The reduction of a bail amount
  • Reduction of charges or the dismissal of certain charges;
  • A change of the trial venue
  • Examination of police evidence
  • The exclusion of drug paraphernalia evidence in a drug case;
  • The exclusion of an improperly obtained confession;
  • Dismissal of prior convictions

Trial Motions

Numerous motions may be made during the course of a trial. They include:

  • A motion to strike when a judge may order the jury to discount evidence it heard.
  • A motion to allow the judge and jury to view the crime scene;
  • A motion seeking the dismissal of the prosecution evidence

If these motions are to be approved, they must be supported by evidence from the defense. An experienced criminal defense lawyer will be familiar with how to file a successful motion.

Post-Trial Motions

If a jury returns a not guilty verdict, the prosecution cannot file a motion to retry the case under any circumstances.

If the jury finds a defendant guilty, the defense can file a wide number of post-trial motions. A motion to overturn the jury verdict may be filed, although this is rarely successful.

The defense may seek a re-trial or make a motion to the judge to appeal the case to a higher court.

Motions are a very important part of the criminal justice process. If you have been charged with a crime in Tarrant County call us today for a free consultation about your case.

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