Criminal Lawyer Group Defense Team
When you want to make a formal proposal before the federal court, you file a motion. Motions are the milestones, questions, and demands that progress a federal criminal trial from arraignment to the jury. Whether you want the court to make a decision or compel the prosecutor to produce specific evidence, a federal motion is required.
What is a “Motion?”
A motion is a written document that is formally filed with the federal court. A motion should make a specific request or demand a certain outcome. There are motions for the prosecutor to drop the case, motions to suppress specific evidence at trial, and motions to limit witness testimony. Given that these motions are made before the date of trial, they are called pre-trial motions.
What Are the Common Pretrial Motions?
Pre-trial motions are frequent in civil and criminal cases. The motions filed in any criminal case could depend on:
- The severity of the charges against the defendant;
- The amount or lack of evidence obtained by the prosecutor and strength of the government’s case;
- The type of crime the defendant allegedly committed;
- The prosecutor’s willingness to share evidence; and
- The type of evidence and witnesses the prosecutor plans to bring before the court.
Motion to Dismiss and Motions to Exclude Evidence
In federal criminal cases, the most common motions are those regarding dismissal of the case and evidence presented in court.
These motions can be hotly contested by either side because the court’s decision on a motion has a direct and substantial impact on the criminal case. Some of the most important federal motions are:
- Motion to Dismiss: This motion is only made by the defendant in a criminal case and argues that the prosecutor lacks evidence or legal standing or that the federal court doesn’t have jurisdiction to hear the case.
- Motion to Exclude Physical Evidence: There are several reasons why evidence obtained by the prosecutor should be properly excluded from court. All of these reasons are based on the defendant’s right to due process. Some of the more persuasive arguments to exclude evidence include: the evidence was obtained without a proper search warrant, the evidence would unfairly prejudice the jury, and the evidence would confuse an issue or mislead the jury.
- Motion to Exclude Witness Testimony: Witness testimony can be equally persuasive to a jury and when there is reason to exclude all or part of a witnesses account a motion can be made to do so. The reasons to exclude witness testimony are: the witness is unreliable, there is a conflict of interest between the witness and potential outcome of the case, and the witness lacks the ability or competence to testify under oath.
- Motion to Release Evidence: The federal courts place some onerous on prosecutors to release and share relevant evidence with the defendant, but prosecutors are reluctant to produce documents, physical evidence, or potential witnesses when the evidence damages the government’s case. A defense lawyer can compel the prosecution to handover material evidence through a motion to release evidence.
Representation for Pre-Trial Motions
Just as it is in your best interest for a federal defense lawyer to represent you at arraignment and a federal bail hearing, you should also have a lawyer for pre-trial motions. What’s decided in these motions will influence the outcome of a federal case and could be decisive.
A pre-trial motion will determine if damaging or inflammatory evidence is permitted at a criminal trial. It is through these motions that a specific witness could be permitted or forbidden to testify. You want the outcome of these motions to be in your favor and aligned with your strategy in federal court – that often requires a federal defense lawyer with a robust federal motion practice.