Downtown Tampa




Pretrial Motions


A motion is simply a formal request of the court. There is no limit to the number or type of motions that can be filed. A defense attorney can use a motion to argue that there should not be a case pending against the client. If there must be a case, a defense attorney can use a motion as a means to control the type and amount of information a jury may hear at trial. Two of the most common motions are a “motion to dismiss” the case and a “motion to suppress" evidence.



Motion to Dismiss:

There are various legal reasons why an accused may file a motion to dismiss. The most common reason is that there are no material disputed facts and that the undisputed facts do not establish a prima facie (legally sufficient) case of guilt against the accused.

Motion to Suppress Evidence in Unlawful Search:

Article 1, Section 12 of the Florida Constitution states, “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, and against the unreasonable interception of private communications by any means shall not be violated. No warrant shall be issued except upon probable cause, supported by affidavit, particularly describing the place or places to be searched, the person or persons, thing or things to be seized, the communication to be intercepted, and the nature of evidence to be obtained. This right shall be construed in conformity with the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution, as interpreted by the United States Supreme Court. Articles or information obtained in violation of this right shall not be admissible in evidence if such articles or information would be inadmissible under decisions of the United States Supreme Court construing the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution."

An accused aggrieved by an unlawful search and seizure may move to suppress anything obtained for use as evidence by law enforcement if:

A) the property was illegally seized without a warrant;

B) the warrant is insufficient on its face;

C) the property seized is not the property described in the warrant;

D) there was no probable cause for believing the existence of the grounds on which the warrant was issued; or

E) the warrant was illegally executed.

A warrant may be requested by law enforcement for any criminal case. An example of why law enforcement may seek a warrant is when they are investigating a suspect, or suspects, in a racketeering (R.I.C.O.) and/or conspiracy case and they believe that the evidence they are seeking may be on a computer or kept in some other detailed record-keeping system belonging to the suspect(s). In cases of this nature, it is critical for a defense attorney to scrutinize the warrant and how it was obtained and executed. If items seized from an invalid warrant are suppressed, it weakens the government’s case.

In cases where warrants are not utilized, such as when a law enforcement officer detains someone on the street or conducts a traffic stop, a defense attorney should evaluate the facts to assess issues such as lack of reasonable suspicion and lack of probable cause. These principles require the government to justify its actions.  If an officer cannot justify a warrant-less search, the evidence will be suppressed. 

Motion to Suppress a Confession Illegally Obtained:

The accused or the court can move to suppress any confession or admission obtained illegally from the accused. If statements were obtained after an illegal stop or search, or if there was an invocation of the right to counsel or the right to remain silent that was not honored, a motion should be filed. Not only can the confession or admission potentially be excluded, any evidence that was derived from the confession or admission may be excluded as well.