Jacksonville Criminal & Family Law Attorneys
Call Now 910.405.8459

What are Pretrial Motions, and How Does Your DWI Attorney Use Them in Your Defense?

When you are charged with DWI, you are facing a criminal case. This is a serious matter, and your DWI attorney will do everything in his or her power to minimize its effect on your reputation and future wellbeing. In North Carolina, our DWI laws require that most motions that regard the admissibility of evidence must be made a a pre-trial hearing. Often that hearing is conducted immediately before the trial itself commences, in front of the same judge and in the same courtroom as the trial itself. In other situations it may be held on a different day from the trial. While some attorneys skip this step, at Welch and Avery we believe that we need to use every tool at our disposal that may benefit your case.

What Are Pretrial Motions?

Pretrial motions are used by both the defense and the prosecution. From your defense attorney’s perspective, pretrial motions can be used to:

  • Argue that certain evidence to be presented against you is inadmissible.

  • Request a ruling to the effect that certain witnesses may not testify against you.
  • Argue that your case should be dismissed.

Simply put, the pretrial motions set the framework for a trial. Physical evidence and witness testimony are considered, and the judge must decide whether they are relevant to the case. Often there is testimony concerning the legality and Constitutionality of the arrest or the validity of the evidence and the way it was collected. This is your DWI attorney’s opportunity to set boundaries, but it is also a time when he or she can put forward any reasons why you should not be required to stand trial at all. Many times the ruling of the Court on these pre-trial matters can determine the outcome of the trial itself. We refer to these sorts of Motions as being “dispositive”.

What Arguments Could Your DWI Attorney Put Forward?

Naturally, the arguments that are put forward for the judge’s consideration will depend on the circumstances of your case. Here are some examples:

Miranda rights not read: You made a confession or said things that appear incriminating to police officers who have not read you your Miranda rights. Before you are questioned by police, it is their duty to remind you that you do not have to tell them anything (the right to remain silent), and that anything you do say may be used as evidence.

Illegally obtained evidence: Your attorney may argue that certain other evidence be excluded. For example, if your car was searched and police found evidence that you use marijuana, this could aggravate your position since it could be considered as evidence that you were intoxicated. But if police searched your car without adhering to the letter of the law in terms of the procedure they followed, the search is deemed illegal, and the evidence found may not be considered during your trial.

Breathalyzer results questionable: The same is true of breathalyzer results. If the officer did not use the correct testing procedure, the results of this test cannot be used as evidence against you. In addition, police officers sometimes lay charges against people who tested below the legal limit. They will usually argue that the breathalyzer test was conducted at a time significantly later than your arrest, or that you were “appreciably impaired” on the grounds of witness testimony. A pretrial motion on such a case may even be a request for a motion of dismissal, meaning that the charges against you are dropped.

Unlawful Stop: The police cannot stop any vehicle they want, whenever they want. The Constitution requires that the police have a legal basis before they decide to use their power to detain a motorist and investigate them. Many times a DWI case starts with a questionable stop where the Defendant was not observed breaking any laws. A pretrial motion might be made asking the judge to exclude any evidence obtained as a result of a stop that violates this Constitutional protection.

What Are the Possible Consequences of Successful Pretrial Motions in DWI Cases?

Pretrial motions can make a substantial difference to the way your trial is conducted. Both prosecution and defense may present pretrial motions, and these can result in:

Motion to dismiss: A motion to dismiss certainly is cause for celebration. A DWI lawyer will have carefully studied the evidence against you, looking for errors or breaches of procedure. For example, if your case has been mishandled by arresting officers or by the laboratory handling your blood sample, and a judge can be convinced that there is insufficient evidence to justify the charge against you, it simply gets dismissed since the case against you has insufficient merit.

Rulings regarding evidence and testimony: It’s possible that there are reasons why certain physical evidence should be excluded from a trial, or that certain witnesses should not be allowed to testify against you. Lastly, if evidence against you or evidence that may benefit your defense has not been made available to your attorney, a Motion for the Release of Evidence may be passed, allowing your DWI attorney to prepare your defense with full knowledge of the case the prosecution will present.

Charged With DWI? Your Case is More Complex Than You May Realize

Most people think that DWI cases are simple, open-and-shut matters, but there are many complex legal considerations to take into account. Your prosecutor will certainly use these for the furtherance of his or her case against you. To obtain a truly just finding, you will need a DWI attorney to take care of your interests.

Welch and Avery Attorneys at Law has been the choice of countless NC residents seeking representation by an experienced DWI attorney. Don’t face your prosecutor without qualified legal assistance. Call us on (910) 405-8459 or simply contact us online.

Categories: