Federal Crimes Blog

Pre-Trial Motions in Federal Criminal Cases

Posted by Hedding Law Firm | Jun 25, 2020

Any time you're indicted for a federal case in Los Angeles, or anywhere in the nation for that matter, typically you will appear for your post-indictment arraignment.  You will eventually be assigned a judge and then the prosecutors will be ordered to give all the discovery related to the case to your attorney.

That's basically all of the information — whether it be police reports, surveillance videos, wire tap evidence — whatever information they have.  The prosecutor — the Assistant United States Attorney — in a federal case is going to have the responsibility for turning that over.

Once your attorney reviews it, your attorney is then going to consider filing pre-trial motions.  That's why pre-trial motion practice is definitely something that you want to consider if you have a federal criminal case pending against you.

Legal Grounds for a Pre-Trial Motion

Now, I will tell you, I've been doing this for 26 years and not every federal case warrants the file of a pre-trial motion.  There's no reason to file a pre-trial motion in a federal case unless there's grounds for it.

The reason I say this is because if you just file a bunch of motions trying to somehow help yourself without having any basis for the motions, all you're going to proceed in doing is angering the judge who will ultimately sentence your client if they're guilty.

Pre-Trial Motions in Federal Criminal Cases

You will also anger the prosecutor who is in charge of what the charges are, and ultimately could offer a plea agreement to your client.  So, you don't just do things to do them in federal cases.

Pre-trial motions are only filed if they're relevant in the case.  For example, if the police illegally stopped somebody and searched them, you can make the argument that the stop was illegal.

Therefore, the search was illegal and anything found during that search shouldn't be able to be used against a particular person because you can't benefit if you're the police from an illegal search.

In that case, a search and seizure motion would make sense.  Obviously, your attorney would file that an try to challenge the case.  So, that would be a relevant pre-trial motion.

Motion to Block Expert Testimony

Other motions that I've seen filed before trial would be a situation where the government was going to try to call an expert in the case and you didn't think an expert was warranted in this particular case. A Daubert motion is an attempt to exclude the presentation of an expert's testimony in a trial.

You could certainly file a motion prior to the trial to try and block the government from having an expert testify against you.  The judge would likely hold a hearing on the motion and make the decision whether the expert was warranted or not.

So, to me there's different pre-trial motion.  One pre-trial motion has to do with motions that you try to file before a trial to try to get rid of the case or attack the government's evidence.

The other type of pre-trial motion assumes there's going to be a trial in the case and is trying to file motions to make sure that the trial is held in a fair manner and the defendant benefits in any way he or she can.  So, even though they're both motions before trial, they're pre-trial, sometimes these motions have different objectives.

Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer

In the first scenario, you're usually trying to file a motion to beat the government, get rid of their evidence and win the case.

In the other scenario, in the long-run you want to beat the government, but you realize the case is going to go to trial, you're just trying to limit the damaging evidence that the government is trying to put in against your client.

So, if you or a loved one is charged with a federal criminal case, pick up the phone.  Make the call.  I stand at the ready to help you.  I've been doing this for 26 years and I have a very strong pre-trial motion practice.

Hedding Law Firm is a federal criminal defense law firm located in Los Angeles at 16000 Ventura Blvd #1208 Encino, CA 91436. Contact our firm for a free case evaluation at (213) 542-0994.

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