If your case cannot resolve without a trial, the case will proceed. Both the prosecution and the defense get an opportunity to file motions. Motions are requests made of the court to grant some type of relief. This relief usually asks that some part of the state’s evidence gets excluded from trial. Attorneys may seek to exclude a breath or blood test result or field evaluations. Also, they might try to exclude a custodial statement made by you after your detention, but before the Miranda advisement. You can learn more about motions and how to file them on this page.
In addition, your attorney will make a motion for the prosecutor to send discovery in your case. Discovery is a generic term that relates to production of evidence. The state intends to present this evidence against you in court. An example of discovery is a list of the state’s witnesses against you, plus information on how to locate them. Obtaining discovery allows your attorney to prepare for the trial.
One of the key aspects of discovery may be a videotape of your arrest. This could be from the scene, in the station or both. Most prosecutors’ offices in Connecticut follow an open file policy from the beginning of the case. This allows your attorney to view the police report. Some will allow a copy, while others only allow the taking of notes.
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Your attorney will then get oral argument of these motions. This is an important step. It sometimes allows your attorney to attack various aspects of the state’s case prior to trial. The elimination of harmful evidence is the primary purpose and goal of motions. There will be no jury involved at the motions hearing. Rather, at a typical motions hearing the judge, your attorney, the prosecutor, the state’s witness (the arresting officer) and yourself would be present.
The judge will hear motions and argument from both sides. Then, the judge grant or deny the motions. But, keep in mind that most judges refuse to hear motions until the day of trial. This practice is not as desirable for you for many reasons, the two most important of which is that it limits your attorney’s time to obtain a transcript of important testimony of the state’s witnesses (commonly used for impeachment), and your attorney will have to prepare for both motions and trial, thereby costing a larger attorney fee.
Going to Trial
Following the motions hearing is the trial, which can be either a jury trial (a six person jury is used in misdemeanor cases) or a bench trial (heard only by the judge). If the case is set down for a trial, there will be a day when you and your attorney will be summoned to begin jury selection or voir dire. In Connecticut, our constitution allows for your defense attorney to question each independent potential juror about their knowledge of the case, the witnesses and there general outlook on life.
During this phase, your attorney tries to find the best possible candidates to sit on a jury and side with you. At the same time, the state attorney is looking to find the best possible jurors who will convict you. Depending on the exact charges against you, your lawyer and the state will each have a certain number of challenges which allows them to get rid of a potential jurors without having a reason. If your attorney or the state attorney tries to exclude a particular gender or race, however, the judge can stop them if the other side points it out.