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  • Writer's pictureBrian Foley

How can a Motion in Limine help you win a DWI case?

First off what the heck is a motion in limine? (lim-uh-nee) A motion in limine is a legal document filed at the beginning of a jury trial before the lawyers pick the jury. It asks the judge to make a preliminary ruling about what the lawyers and witnesses are forbidden from saying during the trial. It doesn't make a final decision that a witness or lawyer won't be able to talk about a certain subject or make a certain argument, but it requires the lawyers to approach the judge and ask permission to wade into those waters.

So what should a motion in limine say and what advantages does it give the attorney who files the motion?

A good motion in limine filed by a criminal defense attorney will ask that the prosecutor not go into the following topics or make the following arguments:

  1. The prosecutor should not refer to the Defendant by derogatory names like, monster, evil, or make comparisons to animals or fictitious creatures. (Really I have seen cases get overturned because a prosecutor went over the top in their language used against the citizen accused of a crime.)

  2. The prosecutor nor any witness of the state should mention or allude to any prior criminal conviction of the citizen accused of a crime. (Prosecutors are frequently looking for legal reasons to side step the rule that a jury may only consider the facts of the case currently being presented and any prior criminal history should not be mentioned.)

  3. The prosecutor should not mention the result of any test not yet admitted into evidence in the case and conforming to the standards required for scientific evidence listed in the Texas Rules of Evidence. (Asking that the prosecutor not be able to mention the blood result in their opening statement allows time for the jury to see the case your way before making up their minds about what how to vote.)

  4. The prosecutor should not argue that the community demands a conviction. (It is specifically prohibited that a prosecutor argue in this manner. The old saying goes the jury may have a voice and a prosecutor may argue that they use their voice to speak to the community but they may not have an ear and listen to the outrage from the public about a particular crime or case.)

  5. The prosecutor should not argue in such a manner that he places the juror in the shoes of the victim. (Arguments like, "How would you feel if some did this to you?" are specifically prohibited.)

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