Pre-Trial Motions in Criminal Casespre-trial motions

Pre-trial motions in criminal cases – Criminal charges can have some very serious consequences. Jail time, prison time, fines, court fees, probation, and other collateral consequences can often all be on the table.  That is a long list of things to worry about, and it is one of the reasons that we always recommend getting a criminal defense attorney, and not representing yourself.  If you can’t afford an attorney you have the right to court appointed counsel.

If you have been charged with a crime, you need comprehensive and thorough defense.  In this blog, we will talk about pre-trial motions, which is one of the ways your criminal defense lawyer can help you.

What are pre-trial motions?

Most people are aware of the criminal trial process but many people are less informed about the matters that are handled pre-trial. These pre-trial motions help make the criminal trial work in the defendant’s favor.  Keep in mind however, that the government may have pre-trial motions as well to help the trial work in their favor.

A pretrial motion is a motion made to court by either the government or defense that asks the court to exclude something from trial or to have certain conditions occur as part of the trial. The judge decides whether or not the motion should be granted, and if it is granted, both parties have to adhere to the conditions that have been set as a result.

How are pretrial motions made?

Pretrial motions have to be filed with the court sometime before a trial begins. In a jury trial, they would occur before jury selection begins.  Some pre-trial motions have a time limit of several days to several weeks before the trial begins.  The opposing party must be noticed when a pre-trial motion is filed.

*In North Carolina, the rules regarding pre-trial motions are governed by statute 15A-952.

When does a judge decide whether or not to grant the motion?

Pre-trial motions are usually heard by the judge right before a trial would potentially begin. For the most part, the judge renders a decision right away.

What are some common pre-trial motions?

Sometimes several pre-trial motions are made in a case and sometimes for either strategic reasons or fact-and-circumstance-based reasons, no pre-trial motions are filed. Some common pre-trial motions are:

Motion to dismiss

  • A motion to dismiss is when your attorney asks the judge to dismiss the case because there was some violation of law, some rule that was broken, or some fact and circumstances exist that would make going forward with the criminal trial improper.

Motion in Limine

  • A motion in limine is a motion to request that certain testimony be excluded from potential witnesses, and can also be used to prevent attorneys from making certain statements. If granted it would prevent certain things from being said during the trial.

Motion to suppress

  • A motion to suppress is a motion to have certain evidence excluded from the trial.

Please note that this blog focused on pre-trial motions in the criminal law context. Motions are important in many other areas of law as well, such as family law and immigration.

As criminal defense lawyers in Charlotte, we understand how complicated the criminal process can be, but we are also very comfortable with it.  If you have been charged with a crime in North Carolina or South Carolina, contact us.