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. A Motion in Limine seeks to prevent the bell from ringing in the first place.
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:
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.
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.
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.