What Is a Motion to Quash, and What Does Quash Mean in Court?

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 What Is a Motion to Quash?

A quash definition would be to reject, or void, especially by a legal procedure. Simply put, it is a verb meaning to put an end to. A motion to quash refers to a specific type of request, in which one court is asked to render the decision made by another, lower court as invalid. A motion to quash example would be if a party experienced improper service of process. They may decide to file a motion to quash.

A motion to quash is most commonly filed at the beginning of a trial, or an appeal as a pretrial motion. It may be considered as somewhat similar to a motion to dismiss. However, a motion to quash asks the court to nullify a previous court ruling, whereas a motion to dismiss requests the same of a current filing.

As with other motions, a motion to quash is one part of a larger body of rules, known as civil procedure rules. These rules may differ by state, and differ at the federal level from the state level. However, they serve to govern court procedure for civil cases in order to ensure those cases are handled quickly and fairly. Motions to quash are available in personal injury cases, among other types of civil proceedings.

Who Can File a Motion to Quash?

Either party may file a motion to quash. As previously mentioned, a motion to quash is generally requested as a pretrial motion when a lower court’s decision has a direct effect on the case currently being heard. A pretrial motion is a document that is brought before the trial formally begins; it must be specifically requested in order to take effect. Additionally, pretrial motions commonly have strict filing deadlines, and will be considered waived if they are not raised within the appropriate time frame.

A motion to quash may only be filed when:

  • The court has made some sort mistake in their ruling; and/or
  • A court document, such as a subpoena, has been issued in such a manner that it is considered to be illegal or improper.

How Do I File a Motion to Quash Subpoena?

Once again, the most common motion to quash is a motion to quash subpoena. When a party receives a subpoena for documents, to appear for a deposition, or to testify at a hearing, the easiest option is to comply with the subpoena. Alternatively, the party subject to the subpoena can file objections or a motion to quash. 

Common grounds for filing a motion to quash are that the individual is outside the subpoena range, or that the items to be produced are unavailable within the specified time or at the specified location. Other common grounds for filing a motion to quash include undue burden and expense. 

In order to file a motion to quash, you will need to draft the motion and file it in the case/court that appears on the document you were served with. Once filed, the motion to quash will stay the subpoena, until a judge makes a ruling on the motion or the subpoenaed party and the issuing party reach an agreement. 

It is important to note that not all motions to quash are the same. For example, a motion to quash warrant is entirely different from a motion to quash subpoena. A motion to quash a warrant involves criminal procedure and claims that evidence was seized in violation of the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights. The Fourth Amendment protects persons and houses against unreasonable searches and seizures.

This means a warrant must be based upon probable cause, describe the place to be searched, and the person or things to be seized. Motions to quash warrants claim that the warrant was insufficient or improper and the evidence gained must be suppressed. An experienced criminal defense attorney will be able to help provide guidance about how to file a motion to quash a warrant. 

What Do You Do If You Receive a Subpoena?

A subpoena is a specific type of court order utilized to compel a third party into action. This typically includes appearing at a trial, hearing, or deposition in order to testify. There are penalties for not responding to a subpoena’s directions once you have been subpoenaed. Because of this it is very important that you understand how to respond if you have received a subpoena.

The subpoena document should contain the date, time, and location you are to appear, if you are to appear as a witness, as opposed to being subpoenaed to produce documents. Additionally, the document should specify which party to the legal matter you are to appear as a witness for. All information regarding what to do if you receive a subpoena should be included within the subpoena document or instructions.

If you fail to comply with the subpoena, or do not respond within a timely manner, you could be subject to the following penalties:

  • Monetary sanctions;
  • Fines;
  • Imprisonment; and/or
  • Being ordered to pay attorney’s fees.

It is imperative that you respond to a subpoena as soon as you receive it; failure to respond is chargeable as the crime of being in contempt of court. It is possible that a warrant could be issued for your arrest as well.

What If a Motion to Quash Is Not Granted?

A motion to quash may be rejected for various reasons. An example of a motion to quash being denied would be if the mistake made by the lower court was due to an attorney’s conduct, as opposed to the court’s conduct. In such circumstances, the case would then proceed with the ruling from the lower court in effect.

If a motion to quash is not granted, some alternatives may include filing an objection to the production of the evidence, documents, or tangible things. Common objections include:

  • Undue Burden;
  • The request is overly broad;
  • Unnecessary Expense; and/or
  • The information or documents are subject to a privilege, such as attorney client privilege or doctor patient relationship. 

What Other Procedural Rules May Be Involved with a Motion to Quash? 

It is important to note that a motion to quash may only be filed in good faith. This means that you cannot file a motion to quash simply to delay the judicial process. If a court determines that your motion to quash was filed in bad faith, the court may order that you pay the other party attorney fees. 

Additionally, procedural rules that may be involved with a motion to quash involve the timely filing of the motion. Typically, a motion to quash must be filed no more than 14 days after the date you were served notice, and/or prior to the compliance date and time specified in the subpoena. If your motion to quash if untimely filed, the court will automatically decline your motion and may order that you pay the opposing party’s attorney fees. Therefore, it is important to consult your local rules of civil procedure to ensure that the motion is timely filed. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help with Procedural Rules?

If you are facing any personal injury claims or issues, you should consult with a skilled and knowledgeable personal injury lawyer. An experienced personal injury attorney will be able to determine whether it is prudent to pursue a motion to quash, or what other alternatives may be available to you based on the specifics of your case. 

An attorney will ensure that your rights are protected, throughout the entirety of the civil discovery process. Additionally, an experienced attorney will also be able to represent you in court as needed.

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