Criminal defense attorneys play an important role in the criminal justice system by protecting the rights of defendants and ensuring that they receive a fair trial.
One of the ways that criminal defense attorneys do this is by filing motions with the court. Motions are requests that attorneys make to the judge to take certain actions, such as dismissing the charges, suppressing evidence, or changing the venue of the trial.
The following are the 10 most common motions that criminal defense attorneys file:
1. Motion to dismiss
A motion to dismiss can be filed on a variety of grounds, including lack of jurisdiction, lack of probable cause, and violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights. If the judge grants the motion to dismiss, the charges against the defendant will be dropped.
2. Motion to suppress
A motion to suppress is filed when the defendant believes that certain evidence against them was obtained illegally. For example, if the police conducted a search without a warrant or probable cause, the defendant may file a motion to suppress the evidence obtained from that search. If the judge grants the motion to suppress, the evidence will not be allowed to be used against the defendant at trial.
3. Motion for change of venue
A motion for change of venue is filed when the defendant believes that they cannot get a fair trial in the jurisdiction where the charges are pending. This may be due to pre-trial publicity, bias in the community, or other factors. If the judge grants the motion for change of venue, the trial will be moved to a different jurisdiction.
4. Motion to sever charges
A motion to sever charges is filed when the defendant is facing multiple charges and they believe that the charges should be tried separately. This may be because the evidence for each charge is not related or because the defendant believes that trying the charges together will prejudice their case. If the judge grants the motion to sever charges, each charge will be tried separately.
5. Motion to compel discovery
A motion to compel discovery is filed when the prosecution is not providing the defendant with all of the information that they are entitled to under the law. This information may include police reports, witness statements, and other evidence that the prosecution intends to use at trial. If the judge grants the motion to compel discovery, the prosecution will be ordered to provide the defendant with the information that they are requesting.
6. Motion in limine
A motion in limine is filed before the trial begins and asks the judge to exclude certain evidence from being presented at trial. This may be because the evidence is irrelevant, prejudicial, or otherwise inadmissible. If the judge grants the motion in limine, the evidence will not be allowed to be presented at trial.
7. Motion for judgment of acquittal
A motion for judgment of acquittal is filed at the end of the prosecution’s case and asks the judge to dismiss the charges against the defendant because the prosecution has failed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. If the judge grants the motion for judgment of acquittal, the defendant will be found not guilty.
8. Motion for a new trial
A motion for a new trial is filed after a conviction and asks the judge to order a new trial because of errors that occurred during the trial. These errors may include improper jury instructions, admission of inadmissible evidence, or misconduct by the prosecution. If the judge grants the motion for a new trial, the defendant will be tried again.
9. Motion to reduce bail
A motion to reduce bail is filed when the defendant believes that their bail is excessive. The judge will consider a variety of factors when determining whether to reduce bail, including the defendant’s risk of flight, the seriousness of the charges, and the defendant’s ability to pay bail.
10. Motion to withdraw
A motion to withdraw is filed by the defendant’s attorney when they wish to no longer represent the defendant. This may be due to a conflict of interest, irreconcilable differences with the defendant, or other reasons. If the judge grants the motion to withdraw, the defendant will need to find a new attorney to represent them.
It is important to note that this is not an exhaustive list of all of the motions that criminal defense attorneys may file. The specific motions that will be filed in a particular case will depend on the facts of the case and the defendant’s legal goals.
If you have been arrested, it is important to consult with an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss your case and the best legal strategy for your situation.