What is a Motion in Limine in a Criminal Trial in Texas?


A Motion in Limine is common in criminal trials, both at the state and federal level. It is a motion filed by either the prosecution or defense before a trial begins, asking that the opposing counsel and their witnesses not mention or elicit responses regarding matters that are inadmissible and prejudicial.

It is impossible to unring a bell, and it is impractical to expect a jury to unhear something. The motion seeks to prevent the bell from ringing in the first place.

When Should You File a Motion in Limine?

In just about every criminal trial, a Motion in Limine will be filed by either the state or the defense. The purpose of the motion is to keep parties from referring to irrelevant, inadmissible, and prejudicial evidence which could include:

  • Evidence that a defendant invoked his right to remain silent after arrest
  • Mention of a polygraph test
  • A defendant’s prior criminal history
  • A victim’s criminal record
  • Information about a previous trial
  • Plea negotiations

Attorneys should file a Motion in Limine if there is inadmissible evidence they are concerned the other side could get into in front of the jury.

What Happens When a Motion in Limine is Granted?

In order to get a Motion in Limine granted, the prosecutor or defense attorney must make a legal argument that certain evidence should be excluded for a specific reason. If the limine motion is granted, the opposing party cannot go into the topic without first approaching the judge for a ruling outside the jury’s presence. This includes alluding to it during opening or closing statements. The party who won the limine motion may bring up the excluded evidence but, if they do, the door is open for the other side to explore the issue in front of the jury.

What Happens if a Limine Motion is Denied?

If the limine motion is denied, the prosecution or defense can mention the topic or go into that particular line of questioning without approaching the bench. It’s fair game.

What Happens if Someone Violates a Motion in Limine?

Individuals who violate the motion could be found in contempt of court, which is punishable by up to a $500 fine or six months in jail, or both. It could also result in a mistrial.

Contact us at 817-203-2220 or reach out online.

Call for a Free Consultation

(817) 203-2220

Contact Us Online:

On this Page:

About the Author Board Certified Lawyer Benson Varghese

About the Author

Benson Varghese is the managing partner of Varghese Summersett. He is a seasoned attorney, highly esteemed for his comprehensive knowledge and expertise in the field. He has successfully handled thousands of state and federal cases, ranging from misdemeanor driving while intoxicated cases to capital offenses, showcasing his commitment to preserving justice and upholding the rights of his clients. His firm covers criminal defense, personal injury, and family law matters. Benson is also a legal tech entrepreneur. Benson is a go-to authority in the legal community, known for his ability to explain complex legal concepts with clarity and precision. His writings offer a wealth of in-depth legal insights, reflecting his extensive experience and his passion for the law. Not only is Benson an accomplished litigator, but he is also a dedicated advocate for his clients, consistently striving to achieve the best possible outcomes for them. His authorship provides readers with valuable legal advice and an understanding of the complexities of the criminal justice system. CriminalPersonal InjuryFamily Law Contact
Varghese Summersett
Based on 1121 reviews