Types of Pretrial Motions and How They Can Help You in a Criminal Case

Pretrial is the timeframe after your arraignment and the start of your trial in a criminal proceeding. The pretrial stage is critical to any criminal law case. During this time, legal counsel for both sides discuss how the case will proceed with a judge. At a pretrial hearing, a judge can make special rulings regarding the case. Lawyers can formally solicit the judge’s ruling on specific aspects of the case. These requests are called pretrial motions. Pretrial motions request that the judge make decisions on aspects of the case, like admissible evidence or request to delay the trial for a later date. Pretrial motions lay the groundwork for how the case would be handled if it went to trial. These motions are typically filed in writing and are argued before the judge during pretrial proceedings. Here are some of the most common pretrial motions your legal defense can use to ensure you have a fair and just trial.

Motion to Suppress 

There are several pretrial motions that attempt to eliminate certain statements or evidence from being presented to the jury during a criminal trial. The types of motions to suppress include: 


Your criminal defense attorney will file a motion to suppress evidence if there’s sufficient reason to believe that evidence in your case was obtained illegally, such as through an unwarranted search and seizure of you, your home, or your vehicle. Illegal search and seizure violates your Fourth Amendment rights, and evidence gathered this way cannot be used in court. If evidence is found outside the original warrant’s capacity, it’s also not admissible in court. 


Statements regarding your case that could potentially incriminate you could be thrown out of your trial if made falsely or under coercion. This includes statements made on police reports and during interrogations. 


Confessions made involuntarily or illegally can’t be used during a criminal trial. For instance, a confession made without being read your Miranda Rights or understanding that you’re under arrest may not be admissible in court. Your criminal defense attorney will review the circumstances surrounding the confession documentation to ensure proper procedures were followed. 

Motion for Discovery 

Prosecutors must turn over evidence to the defendant’s counsel when it’s favorable to the defendant. This motion compels the prosecution to share the relevant evidence they acquired. 

Motion to Dismiss 

This motion attempts to throw out the case entirely. This can be done if there’s insufficient evidence to stand trial or you’ve been officially pardoned for the crime. 

Motion for Continuance 

Continuance motions are requests to postpone a trial or hearing to a later date. This could help your defense team have more time to establish your defense, gather evidence, and interview witnesses. 

Motion in Limine 

This pretrial motion questions the admissibility of specific evidence in your case. The evidence could be deemed irrelevant, highly emotional, or prejudicial. 

Change of Venue 

You have the right to a fair trial with a jury of your peers. Trials typically happen in the county where you were arrested. In some cases, getting a fair trial is nearly impossible, especially in high-profile cases with lots of media coverage. This pretrial motion seeks to move the trial to a different location with fewer biases and an impartial jury. 

How to File File a Pretrial Motion

Every pretrial motion must be requested in writing, signed by your legal counsel, and presented to the judge. Each motion should detail the type of motion requested and the grounds for doing so. The judge will review the motion and hear arguments from both the defense and prosecution. Then, the judge will make a final ruling.

Alison M. Lopes —Criminal Defense Attorney Who Fights for You

The outcome of pretrial motions can significantly impact your criminal trial. Orange County criminal defense attorney Alison M. Lopes works hard to file any relevant pretrial motions in your case to fight for your rights and represent you. We work diligently to gather evidence and review the details that led up to your arrest to ensure proper procedures were followed for you to have a fair trial. Contact our office at 407-442-2724 for a low-cost case evaluation.