Motion to Dismiss a DUI in DC

A motion to dismiss is a written or oral request made by a defense lawyer to the judge in a DUI case asking the judge to drop or throw out one or more of the charges filed against a person. This motion can be made for a variety of different legal reasons, however, a Washington DC DUI lawyer is most likely to use a it to request a judge to drop one or all charges in a case based upon legal reasoning.

Reasons to File a Motion to Dismiss

A lawyer may file a motion to dismiss or orally make a motion to dismiss if there exists significant problems with the prosecutors’ case, that creates a legal basis for the judge to be able to drop one or more charges against the defendant.

A motion to dismiss might be based on discovery violations by the prosecutors, meaning that the prosecutors did not comply with the rules in Washington DC for turning over evidence. A motion to dismiss may also be based on a prosecutors’ lack of preparation on the day of the trial or on legal errors on the part of the prosecutors that are serious enough to justify a judge throwing out the case.

Motions to dismiss are usually not based on the facts of an individual case. What that means is, in Washington DC, defense lawyers cannot file motions to dismiss on the grounds that the prosecutors have insufficient evidence to support a conviction. That is a separate type of motion, called a motion for judgment of acquittal, that would be made after a prosecutors have presented their side of the evidence during a trial.

Elements of a Motion to Dismiss

A motion to dismiss must include the factual and a legal basis upon which the defense lawyer is requesting the judge to dismiss either a charge or the entire case. The factual basis for a motion to dismiss would include facts relevant to the particular case at hand. Such facts could include information stating that the prosecutors failed to preserve or turn over certain types of evidence or that the prosecutors committed constitutional violations, such as a violation of a person’s Fourth Amendment right to be free of unreasonable searches and seizures.

The motion to dismiss would then also include any relevant law that would support a dismissal of the charge or the case as a whole based upon the facts present in the case. Such law could include case law from higher level courts regarding unreasonable searches and seizures, or it could include DC procedural rules that would justify dismissing a case due to a procedural violation by the prosecutors.

Following a Filing

If a defense lawyer filed a motion to dismiss in a DUI case, the judge in the case would typically give the prosecutors an opportunity to respond.

Prosecutors would then file their own motion arguing why their case should not be dismissed. The judge in the case would then have the opportunity to either make a ruling on the defense’s motion to dismiss based on the filings, or to schedule a hearing so that the judge could consider any additional arguments or testimony from either side. That testimony could include witness testimony or additional arguments by the lawyers to further elaborate on the arguments that were filed in their written motions.

After the judge has considered all of the testimony or arguments from the lawyers, the judge would then rule on the defense’s motion to dismiss, either granting the motion to dismiss, denying the motion to dismiss, or granting parts of the motion to dismiss and denying other parts.

Such a ruling could include denying a motion to dismiss for certain charges and granting it for other charges. Alternatively, rather than dismissing the case entirely, the judge may decide some type of a lesser sanction would be more appropriate, such as removing certain evidence from the record or not permitting the prosecutors to use certain evidence or witnesses in the trial.

Benefits of a Lawyer

Motions to dismiss in a DUI case need to be based on very specific factual and legal arguments. They are also dependent on the specifics of DC criminal law and procedure. In DC criminal procedure, defense lawyers typically do not have the ability to file motions to dismiss simply because the defense feels that the evidence is lacking.

In Washington DC, judges will refrain from ruling on the facts of a case until the case goes to trial. Because of this, a defense lawyer needs to be very familiar with DC law procedure to know when and under what circumstances it is appropriate to file a motion to dismiss and what the proper legal justifications for such a motion would be.