If your future is uncertain because of a criminal charge, you may be feeling impatient to get the process started and over with. Like many unpleasant experiences, the waiting can be excruciating.
For you, a large part of this waiting may include frequent trips to the courtroom for motions and hearings. If this is your first experience in the Texas criminal justice system, it may seem like these hearings just delay the inevitable. However, pretrial motions can have a profound effect on your case.
What is your attorney doing?
Your attorney may request for the judge to make certain rulings in your case before the trial begins. The prosecutor may have similar requests. These are called pretrial motions, and your attorney will attempt to obtain a ruling that will benefit you. In some cases, a judge's ruling on a pretrial motion can strengthen your case, for example, if the judge agrees to exclude some powerful evidence against you because police obtained it unlawfully. Other examples of pretrial motions include the following:
- Your attorney may make a motion to dismiss the case because there is not enough evidence against you or because there is no legal basis for the charges.
- The prosecutor or your defense counsel may file a motion to change the venue if they feel the jury in the region would be too biased to make a fair judgment.
- Either attorney may make a motion to suppress the testimony of a witness if hr or she believes the witness is unreliable or may not have the capacity to take the stand, for example, a child.
- Your attorney may file a discovery motion which would compel the prosecution to reveal information they may have against you.
One attorney may also request a motion for summary judgement. This means that the facts are not in question and both sides agree to them. What is in question is the matter of law. In other words, when the judge sees all the evidence that the jury will see during trial, can he or she reasonably rule in your favor? The prosecuting attorneys may also request a summary judgement if they are not certain their evidence is enough to convict you.
Pretrial motions may seem tedious, but they can greatly influence the course of the trial. You would benefit from having an attorney who is skillful at building a defense strategy and utilizing pretrial motions to your advantage.