Stages Of A Criminal Case Pretrial Motions

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Pretrial motions arguments concerning what is and is not admissible during a criminal trial are made after the preliminary hearing, yet before the case is taken to trial. They are presented to the criminal court judge. Pretrial motions can be made by both the prosecution and the defense in criminal cases, and are made in order to set limits on the trial.

Often, either the defense or the prosecution will make arguments as to what evidence can be used in the criminal trial, or what testimonies should be allowed or disallowed in the trial. For example, the defense or prosecution may argue that a particular person should or should not be allowed to testify during the trial.

Pretrial motions can also be made to dismiss the criminal trial entirely. For obvious reasons, the defense will make a pretrial motion for dismissal of trial. Generally, there are two major arguments that are used for a pretrial motion for dismissal: the lack of personal jurisdiction and the lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

A common example of a defense's pretrial motion is the exclusion of a police officer's testimony. For example, if the suspects' responses to the officer were made before the officer read the suspect his or her Miranda rights, the defense would request that these statements be excluded from the trial proceedings.

In other cases, the defense may request that the trial be dismissed due to the fact that the police officer did not have probable cause to arrest the suspect. If the defendant's attorney has substantial evidence that the police officer did not have probable cause for arresting the suspect, it is very likely that the trial will be dismissed.

A prosecution's pretrial motion could include the exclusion of a particular witness. For example, the prosecution could argue that an elderly witness with Alzheimer's is not legally competent to testify, and ask that this witness be excluded at trial.

Some other examples of common pretrial motions include motion for a change of venue, motion for exclusion of physical evidence, motion to suppress a warrantless search, motion for exculpatory evidence, motion for interpreter, motion to transfer pleadings and motion for continuance.

Pretrial motions set the boundaries of the trial, and can even address the issue of whether or not the defendant should be forced to stand trial. There are nearly endless possibilities of pretrial motions, but all must be settled before the trial proper can begin.