A motion hearing is a hearing where either the defendant’s Manassas DUI attorney or the Commonwealth’s attorney is asking the court to enter an order before trial. The type of order being addressed depends on the specific circumstance of the case and can include a number of different things including and order to suppress evidence, a discovery order, or a motion to continue.
Regardless of the specific type, however, the motion will be placed on a special docket, which is heard in advance of court where the judge will make a determination about whether the relief that is sought is going to be granted or not.
In most DUI cases, the most common motions are going to be motions for continuance or motions for discovery. A continuance is simply to move the trial date to a date in the future while a discovery motion is to compel the government to turn over evidence that it has related to the case.
In some cases, it will be appropriate to file a motion to suppress in advance of court or even a motion to dismiss in advance of court, which may dispose of some or all of the issues in the case prior to trial.
Once a motion is filed, if there is a response by the other side, then the matter proceeds to the date that has been selected by the judge or by the parties for the motion to be heard. The motion is then argued in open court and the judge makes a decision about whether the relief sought will be granted.
A motion to suppress is a mechanism whereby it is argued that a person’s constitutional rights have been violated in the process of the police gathering evidence and that, as a result, evidence collected by police should be kept from being heard by the judge at trial.
For example, if it appears that the police have detained a person or stopped their vehicle in a DUI arrest without probable cause to believe that either a crime had been committed or some reasonable suspicion that a DUI was in progress, a court could rule that that is an unconstitutional seizure under the Fourth Amendment.
The consequence of the police seizing a person illegally is that any evidence that is discovered after the illegal seizure is going to be kept out at trial. For practical purposes, if a motion to suppress is granted, the result may be that the case is going to be dismissed.
A motion to compel discovery is used when the government has been ordered by the court to turn over certain information to the defense and it fails to do so. A motion to compel discovery will be used in a DUI case, for example, if it is clear that there is video evidence and the government fails to turn it over.
Under those circumstances, the defense attorney can ask the court to require the government to turn that material over and if it does not, the court can make further rulings that will make it difficult for the government to proceed to trial because other types of evidence may also be excluded as a punishment.
The other main motions that can be filed during a case or raised at trial are what are referred to as motions to strike.
A motion to strike is where the defense argues that even if all of the evidence that the government has put forward is accepted as being true, that still does not amount to enough for the defendant to be convicted.
A motion to strike can be made at the end of the government’s evidence when it is believed that the evidence is simply insufficient. Even if it is not granted at the conclusion of the government’s evidence, it can be renewed at the end of trial and the judge can rule as a matter of law that there is insufficient evidence for the court to even consider whether the person is guilty or not guilty. In that case, the charge will be dismissed.
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