Pretrial Motions Explained

After the preliminary hearing and before a criminal case goes to trial, the prosecutor and the defense attorney usually appear before a criminal court judge and make pretrial motions — arguments that certain evidence should be kept out of the trial, that certain persons must or cannot testify, or that the case should be dismissed altogether.

Remember that most DUI cases do not reach the preliminary hearing stage. In the majority of such cases, the arraignment and pretrial hearings usually represents the first and last time the suspect will be in court, as most DUI suspects choose to plead guilty, especially if evidence of intoxication is strong.

As their name implies, pretrial motions are requests made by either attorney prior to the trial to limit the amount of evidence a jury or judge will hear. Pretrial motions are tools used by the government and the defense in an effort to set the boundaries for trial, should one take place. Pretrial motions typically address the following issues:

  1. What physical evidence and testimony can be used?
  2. What legal arguments can and cannot be made?
  3. Is there any reason that the defendant should not be forced to stand trial?

While specific possibilities are endless, following are some examples of pre-trial motions that might be made in a DUI case:

The defense asks the judge to keep out of the case (“exclude”) marijuana “joints” that the defense argues was obtained through an illegal search of the defendant’s car.

The defense argues that a confession made by the defendant should be excluded, because it was made to a police officer who failed to advise the defendant of his Miranda rights. The defense argues that Breathalyzer test results should be excluded, because the testing procedure used by the arresting officer was clearly flawed.

A pretrial motion could allow you to gain access to an arresting officer’s personnel file to determine if the officer has received any prior complaints regarding her conduct. Remember that police officers must follow very strict guidelines when obtaining evidence. The arresting officer’s personnel file may be used to show that, because the officer has a history of misconduct, it is likely that you were not properly treated. And, if so, then evidence against you could be kept out of court. Complaints that you might look for in an officer’s personnel file include those about racial bias, excessive force, false arrest, planting evidence, discrimination, harassment, or criminal conduct.

However, in order for access to a personnel file to be granted, something must have happened that led you to and your attorney to believe that the officer’s past conduct should be called into question

If you or a loved one is in a bind as a result of a criminal charge, immediately contact a Seattle Criminal Attorney. A Criminal lawyer is not going to judge you, and understands that everyone makes mistakes. Hiring a Seattle Criminal Lawyer to help can – at a minimum – reduce penalties, and can help direct people on how to best deal with their criminal charge, and many times even get them dismissed. So it should go without saying that someone cited for a misdemeanor or felony should hire a qualified Seattle Criminal Lawyer as soon as possible. Criminal charges can cause havoc on a person’s personal and professional life. Anyone charged with a crime in Washington State should immediately seek the assistance of a seasoned Seattle Criminal Lawyer.

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