What is a Pretrial Motion?
At its most basic, a motion is a formal legal request made to the judge in a case. A pretrial motion is one made before trial. In criminal procedure, pretrial motions and preliminary hearings take care of certain legal issues before trial takes place, such as the admission of evidence and who will be allowed to testify as a witness.
Why Do Pretrial Motions in Federal Criminal Cases Matter?
The pretrial motion and preliminary hearing phase of a case is often crucial. It can be a turning point. Depending on the facts and circumstances of the case, your criminal defense lawyer can bring a motion to exclude evidence at trial or a motion to dismiss the charges altogether.
Examples of Pretrial Motions in Federal Cases
- Motion to Dismiss. A motion to dismiss is a request to the judge that the federal charges be dismissed altogether for lack of evidence or other issues.
- Motion to Suppress. A motion to suppress asks the judge to keep certain evidence or witness statements out of trial.
- Motion for Change of Venue. A motion for change of venue is a request that the case be moved to a different location because of concerns that the jury will be swayed by publicity (often done in high-profile cases).
Any one of these motions, whether granted or denied, can have a significant impact on the case at hand.
Expert Tip: In many child pornography cases, where the evidence against a defendant is strong based on a forensic examination of the suspect computer, the best chance of beating the charges often means filing a motion to "suppress" (or exclude) the evidence obtained from the computer. United States v. Hodson, 543 F.3d. 286 (6th Cir. 2008) (possession of child pornography conviction reversed when evidence of child pornography found on the suspect computer was obtained via an invalid search warrant).
Contact Federal Defense Attorney Patrick Roberts
Patrick Roberts founded Roberts Law Group, PLLC in 2007. Since then, he has tried hundreds of cases before judges and juries. Skilled counsel can dramatically improve the outcome in cases involving federal charges. Based in Raleigh, North Carolina, Patrick Roberts and his team consults with clients across the country. Call 800-760-9071 or use our online form to request a consultation.
North Carolina vs. M.W.
Charge: Charge: Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon (4 Counts), First Degree Burglary, Conspiracy to Commit Robbery with A Dangerous Weapon
Facing: 12 - 17 years in prison
An incarcerated defendant accused our client of participating in the robbery of a group of youth at a party. We were able to raise doubt as to the credibility of this individual. In the end, the prosecutor dismissed these charges, citing a lack of evidence.