The Criminal Defense Process Part 8 – Filing Motions in a Criminal Case
In this video, I am going to be talking about filing motions or motion practice in the context of a felony criminal defense case. Now, motions can be filed in many different times during the progress of a case. The reason we put it here after the preliminary hearing examination is this is a time when a lot of motions start being filed in a case. So, what you are doing when you file a motion is you are requesting the court to make an opinion on something. It may be as simple as getting a bond modified so you can file a motion to modify a bond. You are getting in front of a judge, the judge is getting to read or hear your thoughts on a specific subject, and then the state gets a chance to respond to your thoughts or give some of their own thoughts, and then a judge makes a determination on what they want to do, whether it is wholesale adopt what you think is right, wholesale adopt what the state thinks is right, or come to some sort of middle ground. Now, after a preliminary examination, after your lawyer has gotten a large amount of the discovery that will be produced in the case, has had a chance to hear the witnesses in the case and get some of their testimony on record, this is when your lawyer a lot of times will begin to file motions. There is a multitude of motions that can be filed and this video would be 20 minutes long if we want to do all of them. But I am just going to go over a couple of ones. A very common one would be a motion to suppress. Now, once your lawyer looks through the discovery in your case and he sees maybe a search that was done illegally, or a confession that was obtained illegally, and that evidence or the fruits of that search or a confession obtained because of illegal questioning or something like that, can dramatically impact your case. It can hurt your case. So, obviously if those things are not in front of the judge, if that evidence is not presented at trial, then your case gets a lot better. So, your lawyer will file a motion to suppress. They will say, something along the lines of, “Judge, I have discovered in the discovery that this, (whatever this is, whether it is a confession or physical evidence), was obtained illegally, here is the reason it was obtained illegally, and I believe that the court should exclude that evidence at trial.” And then the state gets a chance to respond to that motion to suppress. They will almost invariably disagree and say “No, I do not think that evidence was obtained illegally and therefore it should come in.” Then the judge gets to read both motions and decide. Sometimes they will even have argument on motions, in which your lawyer will go to court and present oral argument to the judge, in which the judge can then determine who is right and who is wrong. Another type of motion, which may not have as dramatic of an impact as a motion to suppress, but like a motion in limine. A motion in limine is just a motion that is filed before a trial that tends to do a very similar thing as a motion to suppress. It is saying, to a judge, “This evidence should not be presented in trial. Maybe it was not obtained illegally but it is going to be used for an improper purpose” or something along those lines. Now those are just a couple of different motions. There are literally dozens and dozens of motions that your lawyer can file based on evidence, based on specific facts of your case, and how your case was processed. For more information on the criminal defense process and the next step, or doing discovery on your own, please watch our next video.