Below are some of the common motions used by defendants with currently pending charges when attempting to change attorneys or attempting self-representation. Representing yourself in a criminal matter is almost always a bad idea.
A criminal defendant can ask the court to appoint a new attorney for him by filing a Marsden Motion (see the Sample Marsden Motion). The motion alleges that the attorney is incompetent or that he has a conflict of interest that cannot be reconciled. Unless there are unusual circumstances, it is usually a bad idea to bring a Marsden Motion.
A criminal defendant can request that he be allowed to represent himself by filing a Faretta Motion (see Sample Faretta Motion). This is almost always a bad idea, so I offer the following statement from a criminal defense expert to explain why you should not seek self-representation:
You need an attorney. Every defendant does. The pleadings in this book are good to use as examples to help you understand the system, but they are no substitute for an attorney who has been educated and trained in the law. Neither I nor the best law professors are going to be able to make you an effective lawyer in time for your trial.
I give my clients an aggressive defense. I fight for my clients, and sometimes the fight becomes so contentious that I have been charged with contempt. Contempt is a criminal charge, but I don’t back down when my client’s life or liberty is on the line; when I know I’m right.
Several years ago, I was charged with contempt. I was innocent. I do not deny that I am aggressive and, when appropriate, contentious and vehement in my manner, but I was not guilty. The fact that I knew I was innocent was not enough.
Even after graduating law school and practicing criminal defense for decades, I realized that I should not represent myself. It’s just a bad idea. As a practical matter, a defendant cannot testify using the proper question and answer format. Further, if a defendant represents himself, each time he objects, the jury is likely to interpret it as the defendant trying to hide something. Self-representation in a criminal matter is simply a bad idea.
Effective representation requires an attorney. I used an aggressive attorney, like me, and he helped me win my case. You need an attorney also.
~J. Anthony Bryan, Attorney at Law (661)861-8050
Ex Parte Request for Paralegal
An indigent pro per defendant may ask the court to appoint a paralegal to assist the defendant by typing pleadings, serving subpoenas, filing documents, and otherwise performing tasks normally performed by legal support staff. The request is filed directly with the court without being served on the prosecution. (see Sample Request to Appoint Paralegal).
To suppress evidence is to forbid the use of evidence. Example: defendant’s house was searched without permission and without a warrant. If the court suppresses what was found, it cannot be used at trial and the prosecution is not even allowed to mention it. (see Sample Motion to Suppress).
Motion to Compel Discovery
The evidence concerning a case is called discovery. A motion to compel discovery is a request that the court order the prosecution to produce evidence for use by the defense. (see Sample Motion to Compel Discovery).
Motion to Remove Custodial Restrictions
A defendant who is in custody will have an even more difficult time representing himself because of the conditions of custody. A motion to remove custodial restrictions can be used to request the court to order the removal of some of the custodial restrictions (see Sample Motion to Remove Custodial Restrictions).
Motion for Access to Pro Per Supplies
Defendants who are in custody often have significant restrictions on the supplies they are allowed to use. A Motion for Access to Pro Per Supplies may be used to request access to additional supplies to be used in the preparation of a defense. (see Sample Motion for Access to Pro Per Supplies).
Motion to Disclose Informant
Most search warrants related to drug sales are issued based on snitches. The snitch may simply give the police information or may go so far as to perform a controlled buy of drugs. Because the snitch is usually receiving consideration for their assistance (dismissal of a pending case, money, or something else), snitches have a strong motive to lie and/or create evidence. Knowing the identity of a snitch is, therefore, often valuable for a defendant. A motion to disclose informant may be used to ask the court to require disclosure of a snitch’s identity. (see Sample Motion to Disclose Informant).
Motion in Limine to Federalize Objections
The term “limine,” from the Latin limen, meaning “threshold,” generally refers to a motion made shortly before the start of evidence in a trial. Some motions, such as the one discussed here, cannot be brought at any time except in limine. If a defendant who has been convicted only made objections during trial under state law, the federal courts will not review the objections, and the defendant’s conviction will stand. To remedy this problem, objections must be made under both state and federal standards. A motion to federalize objections may be used to ensure objections are made under both federal and state standards and allow a federal court to review a conviction. Such a motion is one of the most important motions in limine that must be brought in every case. (see Sample Motion to Federalize Objections).
If you are looking for more comprehensive collections of criminal defense pleadings, consider a Pleadings Package or a book with a collection of pleadings.