How Florida Criminal Defense Attorneys Use Pre-Trial Motions to Protect Your Rights
The lawyer for a criminal defendant in a Florida homicide case gained a major victory for his client, the Naples News reported recently. Through successful pre-trial motion practice, the attorney was able to obtain a copy of a surveillance video that captured the crime at a convenience store in Punta Gorda. Prosecutors had been holding the video, which the accused’s attorney said was a violation of his client’s rights. The case demonstrates how important pre-trial proceedings are in a Florida criminal case, and how a knowledgeable attorney is a huge asset when you’re fighting charges in a criminal matter.
How do pre-trial motions work in Florida criminal cases?
After your arrest, arraignment, and/or preliminary hearing, your case is set for trial, but there is usually a lot of activity during the pre-trial phase. The prosecutors and your defense attorney will typically use this time to file motions regarding evidence, usually to keep facts out, eliminate certain witnesses, or force the turnover of information.
Another type of pre-trial proceeding is a motion to dismiss the case entirely. Reasons include a lack of jurisdiction, lack of facts to support the prosecutor’s case, or a plea bargain agreement before trial.
What is a motion to compel?
In general, a motion to compel is a proceeding wherein one party asks the court to force the other side to do something; in the case of the homicide in Punta Gorda, the criminal defense lawyer sought to compel the prosecuting attorney to turn over surveillance video. Other reasons to file a motion to compel information in a criminal case might include:
- The defendant’s attorney wants to know the identity of the prosecution witnesses, such as a confidential informant; or,
- The defense lawyer wants the state to turn over documents, pictures, police reports or other paperwork.
The justification of forcing a prosecuting attorney to turn over this information is that it may contain evidence that could clear a criminal defendant, resulting in a dismissal of the charges.
What happens if I win a pre-trial motion in a Florida criminal case?
In short, if you are victorious in a motion to compel, you’ll be rewarded with the relief you were seeking in the motion. For example, if you requested a video, image, or report, the court will direct the state to turn the information over as part of granting the motion. However, the information you gain through a motion to compel can be useful in supporting additional motions, such as a motion to dismiss – i.e., where the information you compel actually clears you of the crime, you can request for full dismissal of the charges.
Talk to a Knowledgeable Criminal Defense Attorney in Fort Lauderdale
No matter what crime you’ve been charged with in Florida, you do have basic constitutional rights, including the right to due process under the law. A qualified Fort Lauderdale criminal defense lawyer like Kevin J. Kulik has the detailed knowledge of your rights and will fight to protect your interests. Without a legal background, you may not be able to properly defend yourself and present pre-trial motions to support your case. Contact Fort Lauderdale area lawyer Kevin J. Kulik for a free and confidential consultation.