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Filing a motion for a judgment of acquittal

When you are facing a criminal charge, the top priority on your list is figuring out how to clear your name. This means taking the time to understand what defense options are available to you. While it is ideal to have the charges dismissed and not have to go to trial, this may not be an option for all defendants. Thus, exploring ways to reduce the charges or even obtain an acquittal is imperative.

Most defendants think of criminal defense strategies as mechanisms to have the charges against them dropped or reduced. If litigation proceeds, there are ways to avoid criminal penalties by filing a motion for a judgment of acquittal. A defendant could enter this motion after the government closes its evidence or after the close of all the evidence in the case.

This motion asserts that the evidence is insufficient to sustain a conviction. At this time, the court will consider whether the motion holds true. If the court denies this motion after the close of the government's evidence, then the defendant may offer evidence without having to reserve this right.

The court may also reserve decision on the motion. This means that the trial will proceed and be submitted to the jury. The court will decide on the motion either before the jury returns a verdict, returns a verdict of guilty or is discharges without having a verdict returned. However, if the court reserves decision, a decision on the motion must be made on the basis of the evidence available at the time the ruling was reserved.

Much like every defendant is unique and diverse, so are the criminal defense strategies they could employ during trial. These matter can become complex, making it important that defendants are fully aware of their situation, what penalties they could face and how best to proceed when asserting a criminal defense.

Source: Law.cornell.edu, "Rule 29. Motion for a Judgment of Acquittal," accessed Jan. 14, 2018

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