What Motions Can I File?

SQ Attorneys

When a criminal case is filed, perhaps one of the most important aspects of the criminal process are motion hearings. Pre-trial motions are tools used by the prosecutor and the defense to set the boundaries for a trial, if a trial is going to take place. When an attorney files a motion, they are asking the judge to make a decision prior to trial. The importance of the pre-trial motion depends on the kind of case, the severity of the charges, the strength of the prosecution’s case, and other factors. A successful pretrial motion can profoundly change the course of a trial if used effectively.

There are several hearings before a case finally goes to trial. There is an initial hearing, or arraignment hearing, where the accused hears the charges against them. There may be a bail hearing where a judge sets bail or denies bail. There may be an initial pretrial conference where the two sides report on the status of the case, secure or exclude evidence, change venue, or attempt to end the case. There may be a final pretrial conference before the trial.

Pre-trial motions are made to secure or exclude evidence, to change venue, or to end the case. These motions are made by attorneys on either side after a preliminary or initial pretrial hearing and before a criminal case goes to trial.

There are several motions that can be filed by parties. Motion to Discover: Before trial, both parties exchange information regarding witnesses and evidence they will prevent at trial. The point of a trial is not to win, it’s to get to the truth. Each party needs time to prepare, and that includes time to prepare to rebut what the other side has said. A motion to discover is a request to the judge to order the other side to share evidence. A Motion to Depose asks for a prospective witness to be interviewed. Motion to Dismiss: The defense may ask the judge to make a legal ruling that there is not enough evidence to prove a crime or that the evidence that has been obtained doesn’t constitute a crime. They are asking that the charges be dismissed and no trial take place. Motion to Change Venue: In a high-profile criminal case, the defense or prosecution may be concerned that the trial will not be fair because pre-trial publicity would make it hard to find an impartial jury. An attorney may ask for a change of location. This may be awarded in heavily publicized cases where the jury pool could be prejudiced against the defendant. Motion to Suppress: In this case, the defense or the prosecution asks the judge to restrict some evidence or statements from being introduced at trial. If the police did not have “probable cause” to arrest the defendant in the first place, the defense attorney may file a motion to suppress statements made to the police before the arrest. A defense attorney could ask for a motion to suppress inadmissible evidence that was illegally obtained or beyond the scope of a search warrant. They may ask to suppress certain witnesses who have a conflict of interest. Or, for example, a prosecutor may ask that an elderly neighbor with Alzheimer’s disease be excluded as not legally competent to testify. Motions in limine is a legal term that refers to a motion to exclude evidence that may have some value at trial when there is a greater danger that the evidence would be unfairly prejudicial or misleading or would confuse the jury.

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. SQ Attorneys can be reached at (425) 359-3791 and/or (206) 441-0900.

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