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CHAPTER 7: SELECTED CRIMINAL PROCEDURES - Table of Contents

7.1 - Preliminary Hearings7.2 - Pretrial Conferences7.3 - Pretrial Motions Processs7.4 - Use of Statements7.5 - Use of Seized Evidence7.6 - Eyewitness Identification Procedures7.7 - Interlocutory Appeals7.8 - Sentencing7.9 - Boulder Integrated Treatment Court

7.3 PRETRIAL MOTIONS PRACTICE

Lawyers on either side of a criminal case may file motions prior to trial to attempt to resolve a wide variety of issues. The motions may cover such topics as whether the other side has complied with discovery requirements; whether evidence was seized in a constitutionally acceptable fashion; whether statements were obtained in a constitutionally acceptable fashion; whether lineups were conducted in a constitutionally acceptable fashion; whether certain evidence is relevant or, if relevant, whether it nonetheless should be barred because it is misleading or unfair; what procedures should be used at trial to pick a jury, or allow an out-of-state witness to testify, or introduce exhibits; and any other matter that the lawyer believes could and should be resolved before trial.

Many motions may require the presentation of testimony. A motion to suppress a statement made by the defendant, for example, will usually require the testimony of the police officer who obtained the statement. The facts needed to resolve other motions may be presented through offers of proof by the lawyers or by stipulations between the lawyers. Sometimes, motions raise only issues of law, and there is no need for the presentation of further facts.

Whatever the case, the trial court will generally set a hearing on motions that are filed and attempt to resolve all the issues that can be resolved prior to trial. This makes the trial itself much more efficient and reduces the demands on the time of jurors.

At the hearing, the court will hear any relevant testimony that either side wishes to present. Just as at a preliminary hearing, the rules of evidence are relaxed, except for the rules relating to privileges. The evidence that is offered must, of course, be relevant to the determination of the issues raised by the motions. After hearing the testimony, the court will hear legal argument by counsel, and then rule on the motion.

The most common motions in criminal cases relate to the use of statements obtained by the police from the defendant and evidence seized by the police for use against the defendant. These motions, commonly called suppression motions, are discussed in more detail in the following sections.

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