What is a Pretrial Motion?

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What is a Pretrial Motion?


A criminal defense lawyer’s work starts well before the trial does. In addition to examining your case, following up on potential alibi witnesses, and there are a range of issues that will get decided, or may get decided, well before you get into court.

The way we decide those issues is by submitting certain motions to the judge. The prosecution is making motions as well. Each time we do, we’re essentially asking the judge to weigh in on a issue in advance of the trial.

See also: 6 Questions You Should be Asking an NYC Criminal Defense Lawyer.

Examples of Pretrial Motions

For example, perhaps there is evidence we know the prosecution is going to want to introduce that we know will make you look bad. If we can make an argument that the jury has no business hearing that evidence or seeing it, we can file a Motion to Suppress. We’d also do this if the evidence should be inadmissible, such as evidence obtained through an illegal search and seizure.

This happened recently in a misdemeanor case Robert Kraft, owner of the Patriots NFL team.. His lawyers hoped to suppress hidden video camera evidence.

One of the first motions we’ll often file is a Motion to Dismiss. If the State’s evidence is weak or if we can demonstrate you definitely did not do the crime you were accused of we may be able to get the judge to drop the charges before you ever have to go to trial.

If we can’t get the prosecutor to admit to a weak case and to drop the charges themselves, we may be able to get the judge to do it instead.

The most famous type of pre-trial motion is a Motion for Change of Venue. We would do this when the case has achieved a lot of publicity, making it very difficult for us to find an unbiased jury. That’s usually the one that gets addressed on television, though they usually do it in some dramatic courtroom scene instead of through a written filing.

See also: Search and Seizure in New York: What Are Your Rights?

A Demonstration of Why A Private Lawyer Is Your Best Bet

A public defender just doesn’t have time to file a bunch of motions on your behalf. He or she might file a few, but they have hundreds of other cases to get through. Indeed, sometimes you won’t even meet your PD until about 5 minutes before your arraignment.

Meanwhile, as private criminal attorneys we have the time and bandwidth to file as many Motions as we need to. And as former prosecutors, we know exactly how to be strategic about the Motions we file. And we definitely meet with you at the earliest opportunity so we can spend time both understanding your case and developing a winning strategy.

See also: How to Find the Best Criminal Defense Lawyer for Your Case.

If you’re dealing with criminal charges, give us a call. Through every stage of the criminal justice process, we will work hard for you.


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