Motion for Directed Verdict

Michigan Post-Conviction Criminal Defense Attorney

Motion for Directed Verdict in Criminal Cases

In some criminal cases making a motion for directed verdict may be legally advantageous for the defendant.

A motion for directed verdict is a procedural device whereby the decision in a case is taken out of the hands of the jury by the judge. A verdict is generally directed in a jury trial only where there is no other possible conclusion because the prosecutor has not offered sufficient evidence to establish a prima facie (presumed to be true, unless proven otherwise) case. In other words, the prosecution has not met the criteria of showing a defendant's guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt."

  • A trial judge may direct the jury to acquit a defendant in a criminal case on the basis that the prosecution has not proved its case and the judge finds that there is insufficient evidence to convict.
  • A judge may not ask a jury to return a verdict of guilty because this would deprive the defendant of the constitutional right to a jury trial.

Federal and state Rules of Civil Procedure provide for directed jury motions, however, in a criminal action if an acquittal is directed in favor of a defendant, the jury is directed based upon Rules of Criminal Procedure.