When it comes to a trial in LA, at the end of the prosecution's case, the defense can make what's called an 1118 Motion with the judge. Basically, you're saying to the judge, we listened to all their evidence on all accounts and everything, and we don't believe that they have submitted sufficient evidence for the jury to even decide the case. We think you should decide the case. You should find that they're missing one or more of their elements of their charges that they must have, and therefore, we're asking you to dismiss the case judge.
So, that's basically what an 1118 Motion is. Most of the time to do an 1118 Motion is a waste of time because a judge is not likely — if the case has gone that far — to take it out of the jury's hands. The judge is usually going to let the jury decide whether the person is innocent or guilty of all the charges. Although, I have been successful on 1118 Motions on a number of occasions. Sometimes, the prosecution's evidence comes out – the judge looks at it and the judge says, this case stinks. This case should never have gone to trial. You should have gotten rid of it. There wasn't enough evidence.
So, a lot of times, especially in courts like downtown LA where the judge just gets the case for the first time – they're listening to it just like the jury – and if they don't like it and think it's a ridiculous case and don't think the prosecution has met their elements, then they're going to dismiss it. But most of the times the reasons I do an 1118 Motion is to preserve any appellate rights the person might have if they get convicted. But I did have a case one time where the judge basically dismissed the kidnapping for ransom case which would have been a life case, and he let some of the other counts go to the jury because those were a little bit easier for them to prove, but the jury came back not guilty on those counts.
It's not easy to get a judge to do that because basically the jury sits there the whole time listening to all of the evidence. If the judge grants the 1118 Motion on a trial, then basically, the jury never gets to decide anything and the judge thanks and excuses the jury, and they sat there the whole time for nothing. But the bottom line is, if the judge feels the prosecution has not met their burden in a criminal case in Los Angeles, then he or she probably has an obligation to dismiss the charges and let the defendant move on with their life. It's just not easy to get them to do it. You're basically saying, okay, the prosecutors had to put on this, this and this as their elements for whatever they charged. We say they're either missing all of those things or they're missing one of those things. If they're missing one of those things and the one thing that they're missing is a necessary element of the crime, then what's going to end up happening is, the judge is going to say you didn't put evidence on for every single element of each crime that you charged in this case. Therefore, you leave me no choice but to dismiss the case and get rid of it.
So, I always do an 1118 Motion in a case even though a high percentage of the time they're not going to be granted by the judge. If they are granted, sometimes they'll just partially grant it and get rid of one or two of the counts and let the rest go to the jury. The bottom line is, an 1118 Motion is a weapon in a criminal defense attorney's arsenal. It's just not a weapon at you can use a lot, that's going to be effective, but it's certainly a weapon in certain cases and you need to know the procedures of a jury trial. You need to know when to make the 1118 Motion. You need to know how to argue the 1118 Motion to point out to the judge that the prosecution did not meet this element. If they did not meet the element, you have to have all the elements of a crime. You point to the jury instruction. You point to where they're missing their proof, what evidence they did put on, what evidence they didn't put on, and then you ask the judge to dismiss the case pursuant to 1118. If you can get that motion granted as a criminal defense attorney for your client, your client's going to be thrilled because they don't have to take the risk that a jury might find them guilty and they can move on with their life. That's just as good as a dismissal.