Motions and Continuances
Definition: Professional law tactics are often used to purposely delay events in an effort to postpone or thwart charges for accused offenders. These proceedings can thereby increase the likelihood of a case dismissal or acquittal for repeat and hard core offenders.
Executive Summary: Pre-trial motions can delay proceedings for several weeks or even months. The defense is more likely to obtain a dismissal or acquittal for their defendants when prosecutors are unable to adequately respond to filed motions. Consequently, police officers and other witnesses are less likely to attend court hearings when there are delays. Therefore, these delays can result in missed identification and conviction of repeat offenders and hard core drunk drivers.
More Detail: DUI cases are often the responsibility of new and less-experienced prosecutors. A 2002 study by Robertson and Simpson showed that almost half of such prosecutors reported being inadequately prepared to handle DUI cases and over a third of judges believe that prosecutors do not have equal knowledge as defense attorneys in these cases. The prosecution is therefore sometimes hesitant or unprepared, to challenge motions filed by seasoned defense attorneys. Prosecutors, especially in rural jurisdictions, often work with insufficient resources and may lack necessary up-to-date reference materials and/or access to recent cases that can substantiate their responses to defense motions. As a result, prosecutors may be more likely to negotiate a plea agreement involving lesser charges or a reduced sentence to avoid proceeding to court and potentially losing a case.
To overcome this problem, traffic safety resource prosecutor positions are being created and/or enhanced in some jurisdictions to provide education, guidance, and advice.
Suggested Audience: Prosecutors, Judges
- NHTSA – Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor Manual (2007)
- TIRF – DUI System Improvements for Dealing with Hard Core Drinking Drivers: Prosecution (2002)