Pre-Trial Motions

Rick Ross was in court in his criminal case for a pre-trial motion regarding immunity from prosecution. His appearance in court is a good way to discuss pre-trial motions in regards to a criminal case.

What are pre-trial motions?

Pre-trial motions are contested motions that deal with the admissibility of evidence that either the State or the Defense wishes to present at trial. Evidence can either be physical evidence (things), testimony that a witness provide at trial, or demonstrative. Most pre-trial motions require a hearing in front of judge prior to the beginning of the trial.

Are discovery motions pre-trial motions?

Yes, in the sense that they are filed prior to the commencement of a trial. However, discovery motions and motions under Brady v. Maryland pertain more to the State providing evidence to the defendant and his attorney. In some cases, if there is a dispute on whether the State has complied with their obligations under the discovery statutes, then a criminal defense attorney will file a pre-trial motion regarding this discovery dispute that will have to be heard in front of the judge.

When must an attorney file pre-trial motions?

An attorney has to file all pre-trial motions ten days after arraignment, unless the trial court judge gives additional time to file said motions or if the law allows it to be file later, such as a general demurrer.

Why does an attorney need to file pre-trial motions?

In most cases, a criminal defense attorney files pre-trial motions to keep evidence out that hurts his client’s case. In other cases, the criminal defense attorney will want to know if the trial court judge will permit the attorney to present evidence that can help his client to the jury.

What are the most common pre-trial motions?

This list is not the complete list of pre-trial motions, but here are the most common:

  • Motion to Suppress,
  • Motion in Limine,
  • Jackson v. Denno,
  • Demurrers (General and Special),
  • Motion to Reveal Confidential Informant,
  • Motion to Reveal Deal, and
  • Motion for Immunity from Prosecution.

I will discuss these pre-trial motions in more detail in the future.

Do I have to appear in court for these pre-trial motions?

Unless your attorney gets you to sign a document that waives your presence at these pre-trial motions and files it with the court, you have to appear in court for these motions.

Are there witnesses at these pre-trial motions?

In the majority of pre-trial motions, there are witnesses that have to testify.

Should my attorney file pre-trial motions in my case?

It depends on the facts and circumstances in your case. Not every criminal case needs an attorney to file pre-trial motions. However, a criminal defense attorney needs to consult with his client, review the evidence in the State’s file, and to investigate the case, before making a decision on filing pre-trial motions in a client’s case.

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