Pretrial Motions

There is an enormous variety of pretrial motions in a federal case. These can include constitutional challenges, motions for a bill of particulars, surplusage, and severance motions. See generally Fed. R. Crim. Pro. 12.

The most typical pretrial motion is a suppression motion. In these types of motions, the defense moves to suppress evidence, or to prevent the government from using it at trial. These motions can include suppression of evidence, like a gun seized in a search, or statements, like a defendant’s confession.

The defendant’s motion is sometimes called the moving papers or the opening brief. The prosecutor usually has one to three weeks to respond to the motion. That response is called an “Opposition.” The defense then typically has one or two weeks to respond to the Opposition. That defense response is called a “Reply.” One to two weeks after the Reply is filed, the court usually hears argument on the motion. Sometimes, on a separate date, the court will hold an evidentiary hearing to resolve any disputed facts.