Directed Verdicts at Trial
One of most important aspects of preparing for a criminal trial in Arkansas is knowing the ever-changing law on the Motion for a Directed Verdict. A Motion for a Directed Verdict, or Motion to Dismiss if is a bench trial, is a motion put forth by the defense at the close of the State's case and again at the close of all of the evidence asking the judge to dismiss or throw out the charges. If the judge denies the motion and allows the trial to continue and the jury or judge finds the defendant guilty, in order to preserve and be able to argue on appeal that the State did not present enough evidence to convict, the trial attorney must follow certain technical rules when making the motion for a directed verdict. Failure to do so may mean that the Arkansas Court of Appeals or the Arkansas Supreme Court will not consider that argument on appeal when determining if a new trial or a dismissal is warranted.
I recently presented on the topic of directed verdicts at a meeting of the Northwest Arkansas members of the Arkansas Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and am currently working on a written handout to use at future presentations. Less than a week after that presentation, I won a Terroristic Threatening case during a bench trial after the judge granted my Motion to Dismiss. I am proud I was able to use my knowledge of the law and court rules to get a good outcome for my client.