Motions in DUI & Criminal Cases
What are motions and why are they filed in DUI and criminal cases?
Motions are either written documents or oral requests, that defense counsel files on behalf of a defendant to request the court to take some action (the state can file motions themselves as well). There are motions to suppress evidence, motions in limine to force the other side not to say something or to get a ruling that defense counsel can say something, there are motions to produce documents or suppress documents there are motions for just about anything that counsel may want a court or a prosecutor to do.
The first type of “motion” that defense counsel should file on behalf of the defendant is an exhaustive request for discovery against the government. A request for discovery may not be considered a motion but it is still intended to have the state’s attorney’s office or the government produce all written documentation that it has regarding a criminal offense or a DUI. This is important because a defendant and his counsel must know all evidence that the state has against the defendant in order to see if a case is potentially defendable in court or if a plea bargain may be a better scenario for the defendant. If the government fails to produce documents or evidence in discovery and then they attempt to utilize that evidence in court, defense counsel can move the court (make a motion) to suppress that evidence. The judge would then be called upon to consider whether the government should be allowed to utilize a piece of evidence that was not properly turned over to the defense in discovery. These are important matters that are often considered in both criminal and civil cases. In civil cases in particular, both sides need to be careful to turn over all documents and expert information opinions and reports to the other side because if they fail to do so the court may be requested to suppress the utilization of any such evidence which could be a stunning defeat to the side proffering said evidence.
One of the requests that Robinson and Associates makes in all criminal cases is that all experts the state intends to use at trial be identified and their opinions expressed in detail. Sometimes the state will fail to identify a police officer or other expert that it intends to use in court and when that happens that expert might be excluded from testifying. So in drug related DUI cases the government will need a DRE or drug recognition expert person to testify at court and if the state fails to identify their DRE expert along with their opinions and report prior to court his testimony can be and will be excluded at the trial. This scenario just occurred in Anne Arundel County a few days ago where the DRE expert at his report was not provided to the defense prior to court and therefore all that testimony was excluded and the state’s case fell apart despite the fact the defendant driver may have been impaired when he fell asleep, drove off the road and hit a street sign.
Motions practice as it is known, in the district and circuit courts, is very important for limiting damaging testimony before court. It would be wise for a defendant charged with a criminal offense to find and retain counsel that is experienced in motions practice in order to limit the government’s case before even going to court. It is not always the best bet to allow the government to put in evidence anything that it desires because that can have a deleterious and persuasive effect on the judge or jury. Filing appropriate and timely motions is an important defensive step in the defense of a criminal case that should not be overlooked.