pretrial motions | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee


Course: Introduction

Pretrial motions are motions made before a trial gets underway, such as motions to suppress evidence and motions to dismiss the case entirely for want of evidence.

Pretrial motions are legal documents that are filed by either the prosecution or defense attorneys before a trial begins. These motions are an important tool used in the criminal justice system to determine the admissibility of evidence and to ensure that the trial is fair and just.

Pretrial motions are typically filed by the defense but can also be filed by the prosecution. They are requests to the court to take certain actions before the trial begins, such as suppressing evidence, dismissing the case, or changing the venue. Pretrial motions are important because they can impact the outcome of a trial before it even starts.

One of the most common pretrial motions is the motion to suppress evidence. This motion is filed by the defense and requests that certain evidence be excluded from the trial. For example, if evidence was obtained illegally or in violation of the defendant’s rights, the defense can file a motion to suppress that evidence. If the motion is granted, the evidence cannot be used against the defendant in a trial, which can significantly impact the case.

Another common pretrial motion is the motion to dismiss the case for want of evidence. This motion is typically filed by the defense and argues that the prosecution does not have enough evidence to proceed with the case. If the motion is granted, the case is dismissed, and the defendant is free to go.

Pretrial motions can also be filed by the prosecution. For example, the prosecution may file a motion to compel the defendant to provide DNA samples or other evidence that can be used against them at trial. The prosecution may also file a motion to change the venue of the trial if they believe that the defendant cannot receive a fair trial in the current location.

In addition to these common pretrial motions, there are many others that can be filed depending on the specifics of the case. Some examples include motions to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, motions to suppress confessions, and motions to exclude expert testimony.

It is important to note that pretrial motions must be filed in a timely manner. In most cases, they must be filed before the trial begins or within a certain timeframe after the defendant is arraigned. If a motion is filed too late, it may be considered untimely, and the court may refuse to hear it.

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Last Modified: 04/18/2023


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