A motion hearing is a hearing that is held in front of the judge after one of the lawyers in the case has filed a written request for the judge to do something. At the hearing, the lawyers will orally argue for or against the request, and in some cases, testimony will be taken regarding the issue. Motion hearings can cover anything from requesting that the judge modify your bond, inclusion or exclusion of evidence at trial, demanding that particular evidence be turned over, or to dismiss the entire case based on a legal issue.
Below are some common questions and answers regarding the motion hearing. If you have specific questions regarding your case, you should always feel free to consult your Blanchard Law attorney.
Do I need to be present for the motion hearing?
Yes. In a criminal case, you are required to be present for all hearings, unless you are specifically instructed by your lawyer not to appear. It is only in very rare circumstances that you will not attend a court hearing in your criminal case.
What is going to happen at the motion hearing?
In some motion hearings, there is no need for evidence to be presented. At those hearings, the party that filed the motion will orally argue to the judge why they believe the motion should be granted. If the other party disagrees with the request being made, then they will have the opportunity to orally argue why the motion should not be granted. Then, the party that filed the motion will generally be given the last opportunity to make any further arguments in response.
Occasionally, the parties agree on the request being made, and will merely state on the record to the judge that they agree.
In some motion hearings, there is a requirement that evidence be taken. In that case, evidence will be presented in the form of testimony and/or exhibits. Generally, evidence will be presented first. Then, the parties will have the opportunity to make oral arguments as described above.
How long is the motion hearing going to take?
It depends. Some motions can take minutes. Others can take hours, or in extreme cases, multiple days. Also, some courts schedule “motion days” where all motions are scheduled at a particular day and time. In that case, there may be several motions scheduled for the same day and time for different cases, and while the motion in your case may only take minutes to argue, you could still spend a significant time at the courthouse waiting for your turn. Speak to your Blanchard Law attorney to discuss their specific expectations regarding how long your motion hearing is going to take.
Am I going to have to testify at the motion hearing?
It’s possible. For some motions, certain facts need to be established that only you can establish. If your testimony will be needed at the motion hearing, your attorney will discuss this with you and prepare you for your testimony. Your testimony will be limited to the specific issue that needs to be established, and you won’t be questioned about every possible issue in the case.
For other motions, your testimony will not be necessary. If an issue can be presented without the necessity of your testimony at this stage in the case, that is generally a better strategy. However, in some cases, it simply cannot be avoided.