May 25, 2024


Law for politics

What Is a Halftime Motion in a Criminal Case

Lets say that you represent a client in a criminal matter. You as the attorney do a lot of work on the case. You thoroughly investigate it. You interview all the witnesses. You come up with a game plan with you client. And finally you try to negotiate with the Prosecutor to get the charge dismissed or at the very least reduced to a lesser charge.

The Prosecutor says no to this, and the case gets set for trial. Specifically a jury trial. Well anyone that is familiar with a jury trial in a criminal case knows the Prosecutor has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to convict the defendant. And the jury must unanimously agree on their verdict in order to find the defendant guilty.

But what many people may not know is there is another way to get a criminal charge dismissed during a jury trial. And that is by making a “halftime motion” to a Judge. So what is a halftime motion.

A halftime motion is exactly how it sounds. It is a motion to dismiss made by the defense after the Prosecution has rested their case in chief. Although it is not as simple as it sounds, and it cant be made in every case. To be successful and have the motion granted, the defense attorney needs to make it in certain circumstances. Essentially when a criminal case has several elements to the charge. Meaning the Prosecutor has to prove several different things in order to convict the defendant of a single count.

If the Prosecution has not proven one of the elements. Then the defense attorney can make a motion to dismiss and argue if the evidence is viewed in the light most favorable to the Prosecution a prima facie case has not been established and therefore one of the elements have not been met and the charge or case should be dismissed.

In most cases this type of motion would not be applicable. The best cases to make this motion on are cases that involve a specific element. For example in a criminal trespass case. Lets say the defendant was in an area that was closed to the public. But if the Prosecutor has not proven or established they were aware of this, then they cannot meet one of the elements of criminal trespass.

Due to the long shot of actually prevailing with this type of motion. Not every case is applicable. But in certain circumstances and certain cases this is a motion that can be made to a Judge that can result in the charge being dismissed outright without ever getting to a jury.