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To overthrow; to annul; to make void or declare invalid; e.g., "quash a subpoena."
Unreasonable, obviously irregular, or oppressive subpoenas, injunctions, indictments, and orders can be quashed by a court. For example, if jurors have been selected improperly, the court can quash the proceedings.
In criminal cases, if an indictment is defective to such a degree that no judgment could be made if the defendant were to be convicted, the court typically will quash the indictment. In criminal cases, a motion made by the prosecution to quash an indictment is much more likely to succeed than one made by the defense, whose motion would appear self-serving.
v. to annul or set aside. In law, a motion to quash asks the judge for an order setting aside or nullifying an action, such as "quashing" service of a summons when the wrong person was served.
TO QUASH, practice. To overthrow or annul.
2. When proceedings are clearly irregular and void the courts will quash them, both in civil and criminal cases: for example, when the array is clearly irregular, as if the jurors have been selected by persons not authorized by law, it will be quashed. 3 Bouv. Inst. n. 3342.
3. In criminal cases, when an indictment is so defective that no judgment can be given upon it, should the defendant be convicted, the court, upon application, will in general quash it; as if it have no jurisdiction of the offence charged, or when the matter charged is not indictable. 1 Burr. 516, 548; Andr. 226. When the application to quash is made on the part of the defendant, the court generally refuses to quash the indictment when it appears some enormous crime has been committed. Com. Dig. Indictment, H; Wils. 325; 1 Salk. 372; 3 T. R. 621; 6 Mod. 42; 3 Burr. 1841; 5 Mod. 13; Bac. Abr. Indictment, K. When the application is made on the part of the prosecution, the indictment will be quashed whenever it is defective so that the defendant cannot be convicted, and the prosecution appears to be bona fide. If the prosecution be instituted by the attorney general, he may, in some states, enter a nolle prosequi, which has the same effect. 1 Dougl. 239, 240. The application should be made before plea pleaded; Leach, 11; 4 St. Tr. 232; 1 Hale, 35; Fost. 231; and before the defendant's recognizance has been forfeited. 1 Salk. 380. Vide Cassetur Breve.