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One of the last steps a prosecutor takes before trial is to respond to or file motions. A motion is an application to the court made by the prosecutor or defense attorney, requesting that the court make a decision on a certain issue before the trial begins. The motion can affect the trial, courtroom, defendants, evidence, or testimony.
Only judges decide the outcome of motions.
Common pre-trial motions include:
- Motion to Dismiss – an attempt to get the judge to dismiss a charge or the case. This may be done if there is not enough evidence, if the alleged facts do not amount to a crime.
- Motion to Suppress – an attempt to keep certain statements or evidence from being introduced as evidence. For example, if police conducted a search without probable cause (in violation of the Fourth Amendment), it may be possible to suppress the evidence found as a result of that search.
- Motion for Change of Venue – may be made for various reasons including pre-trial publicity. If the local news has covered the case a great deal, it may be necessary to move the trial to another venue to protect the defendant’s right to an impartial jury.