On this page, you will find links and information about free criminal defense motions, free motions in limine, a free criminal defense MCLE course, and low cost criminal defense motions and motion packages.
Criminal defense motion templates researched and written by some of the best California criminal defense attorneys. Packages are sorted by subject: Discovery, Dismissals, Sanctions, Procedural Motions, Third Party Motions, Motions for Defense Funds, Pleadings Related to Pleas, and Pleadings for Use After Conviction. The motions are for use before trial or for plea and sentencing. Click the graphic above to visit the Pleading Packages page and see the packages of essential criminal defense motions or keep scrolling for the free stuff.
Criminal defense motion in limine templates based on the book from the book California Criminal Defense Motions in Limine are now available in packages by subject. The motions are for use during trial. Click the graphic above to visit the Motions in Limine Packages page and see the packages of essential motions in limine containing more than two-hundred motions or keep scrolling for the free stuff.
Free Criminal Defense Motions in Limine
The following ten motions are from the book California Criminal Defense Motions in Limine. Motion and page numbers within the motions correspond to the book. These ten address issues that recur in most trials.
10. Prohibit Description of Video Recording
Video recordings are now ubiquitous and are part of many cases. Prosecution witnesses often narrate videos to give their own interpretation of what the videos show or, worse, prosecution witnesses describe their conclusions about what a video shows instead of showing the video to the jury. A jury is entitled to make its own determination as to what a video shows. This motion seeks to have the jury make that determination without influence from the prosecution. Download Here
9. Limit Conversations Near Jurors
An in-custody defendant cannot roam the halls of the courtroom while discussing the next defense move. Conversely, prosecution witnesses are almost always out of custody, and it is common for prosecutors and witnesses to discuss the pending case in the courthouse hallways where jurors may overhear. This motion seeks to prevent such conversations. Download Sample Motion Here
8. Limit Prosecution Witness Conferences
A prosecutor may attempt to help a floundering witness by reviewing police reports with the witness, describing the prosecution’s case to the witness, or otherwise trying to get the witness back on track. This motion seeks to limit such efforts. Download Sample Motion Here
7. Prohibit Use of Prosecution’s Demonstrative Evidence
Demonstrative evidence can mislead a jury and prejudice a defendant. Video, PowerPoint, photomontage, and other such highly visual presentations can have a powerful effect, and the defense often sees such presentations only as they are being presented to the jury. This leaves little opportunity to object without giving the jury the impression that the defense has something to hide. This motion asks for an opportunity to review such demonstrative evidence before it is presented to the jury. Download Sample Motion Here
6. Admit Evidence of Consciousness of Innocence
If a defendant flees, destroys evidence, or otherwise exhibits a consciousness of guilt, the prosecution can use those acts to show guilt. This motion seeks to admit acts demonstrating a consciousness of innocence to prove innocence. Download Sample Motion Here
5. Examine Exhibits Outside the Presence of the Jury
Many judges prudently require exhibits to be premarked and discussed outside the presence of the jury. This motion seeks to formalize the practice and ensure that prosecutors do not add new exhibits during the heat of witness examination without first giving the defense opportunity to object without the jury present. Download Sample Motion Here
4. Facilitate Defendant’s Communication with Counsel
An attorney should not be unduly restricted in communicating with his client, especially when the client is on trial, but jails often restrict phone calls, restrict mail, restrict defense computer use at the jail, or otherwise place restrictions on the defendant and the defense team that hamper effective trial preparation. This motion offers some suggestions to minimize interference with defense efforts. Download Sample Motion Here
3. Provide Private Meeting Room for Defense
If counsel and other members of the defense team try to chat with an in-custody defendant during breaks in the proceedings, there is a great danger that conversations will be overheard by bailiffs, court staff, members of the prosecution team, and others. This motion requests a private room at the courthouse during breaks in the proceeding, an hour before court, during lunch, and a half-hour after the close of proceedings so the defense team can privately confer with the defendant. Download Sample Motion Here
2. Make Motions in Limine Binding
If motions in limine are not binding, counsel must renew objections in front of the jury to preserve issues for review. Repeated objections can give the jury the impression that the defense has something to hide. This motion seeks to eliminate the need for repeated objections. Download Sample Motion Here
1. Motion to Federalize Objections
To make a proper constitutional objection, the state and federal courts have required precision and specificity by counsel. In other words, simply objecting “hearsay,” will not preserve a federal Sixth Amendment confrontation issue, nor will objecting “Evidence Code 352” preserve a Federal due process issue for review in Federal courts. If objections are not preserved, Federal courts will not review them. This motion seeks to remedy this problem. Download Sample Motion Here
Free MCLE Course
The course about expert witnesses is hosted on our sister site along with pleadings and handouts. Click here to be taken to ExpertAppointments.com for the free MCLE.
Free Criminal Defense Motions based on changes in the law.
People v. Rubio, California Court of Appeal
Summary: Officers responded to a “shots fired” call in a high crime neighborhood. Defendant exited a garage and confronted police, “yelling for them to shoot him.” Officers broke into the garage, found contraband, and later returned with a search warrant. The initial entry violated the Fourth Amendment. The court explained, “If a man lives in a high crime neighborhood and somebody discharges a firearm outside his home, may the police break down his door and enter his apartment when he refuses to invite them in to investigate? The Fourth Amendment answers a resounding “no”…” Sample Motion to Suppress: Download Court Opinion: Download Keywords: Suppress, Fourth, Warrant, Privacy, Home, Residence
People v. Johnson, California Supreme Court
Summary: In this capital case, the Supreme Court found several errors, but affirmed death. The court explained that evidence of lack of remorse is generally inadmissible – “A lack of remorse is not enumerated as an aggravating factor under section 190.3. A prosecutor, therefore, should not argue that the absence of remorse is a factor in aggravation.” The court explained that evidence of other crimes must meet the “beyond a reasonable doubt” standard – “Section 190.3, factor (b) permits the jury to consider the “presence or absence of criminal activity by the defendant which involved the use or attempted use of force or violence or the express or implied threat to use force or violence.” Before the evidence is presented to the jury, the trial court must determine that the evidence offered would allow a rational trier of fact to decide beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant committed the criminal activity alleged under factor (b). (People v. Clair (1992) 2 Cal.4th 629, 676.)” Sample Motion in Limine – Lack of Remorse: Download Sample Motion in Limine – Prohibit Use of Bad Acts: Download Court Opinion: Download Keywords: Capital, Death Penalty, Aggravation, Remorse, Bad Acts, Prior Acts, Prior Conduct
People v. Lopez, California Supreme Court
Summary: “Acting on an anonymous tip about a motorist’s erratic driving, a police officer approached defendant Maria Elena Lopez after she parked and exited her car. When the officer asked if she had a driver’s license, she said she did not. Police then detained her for unlicensed driving and, without asking her name, searched the car for Lopez’s personal identification. They found methamphetamine in a purse sitting on the front passenger’s seat.” The Supreme Court found the search unconstitutional, stating “we now hold the Fourth Amendment does not contain an exception to the warrant requirement for searches to locate a driver’s identification following a traffic stop.” Sample Motion to Suppress: Download Court Opinion: Download Keywords: Suppress, Fourth, Warrant, Privacy, Vehicle, Traffic, Identification
In Re: Jeremiah S., California Court of Appeal
Summary: The victim of a purse snatching reported that her purse and phone had been taken by two Black males. A ping of the phone traced it to the area where Defendant was found. Officers conducted a patdown search and located the phone. Defendant argued that the patdown search was illegal. The Court of Appeal agreed, stating: “the officer who conducted the patsearch did not present specific and articulable facts to support a reasonable suspicion that Jeremiah was armed and dangerous. In so concluding, we decline to recognize a rule that would essentially validate any patsearch of a suspected robber who is lawfully detained following a report of a fresh robbery, regardless of the particular circumstances.” Sample Motion in Limine: Download Court Opinion: Download Keywords: Patdown, Search, Suppress, Probable Cause
Free Criminal Defense Motions that have not been formatted.
- Motion to Modify Probation
- Motion for Continuance
- Motion to Compel Discovery
- Motion to Disclose Informant
- Motion to Dismiss for Delay in Prosecution
- Motion to Dismiss for Speedy Trial Violation
- Motion to Enforce Plea Agreement
- Motion to Unseal Affidavit
- Motion for Lineup
- Motion to Substitute Counsel (Marsden)
- Request for Order Shortening Time
- Motion to Discovery Officer Personnel Files (Pitchess motion)
- Motion to Recall Warrant
- Motion to Suppress
- Motion to Traverse