Motion For A New Trial In California Criminal Cases
After a jury trial, one of the potential motions that can be filed would be a motion for a new trial. Now, there’s no reason to file a motion for a new trial if there are no grounds to file a motion for a new trial. One argument that can be made in order to file a new trial motion in a criminal case is that there were some bad rulings that were made in the case that affected the outcome of the case.
For example, maybe the defense was trying to get some evidence in and the judge ruled that when the prosecutor objected that no, that evidence is not coming in. It’s not relevant. For whatever reason, it’s prejudicial – the judge decided not to let it in. Or, maybe the defense was trying to block the prosecutors from getting some evidence in.
Grounds for the Motion
For example, they were bringing in another case that the defendant had been accused of doing – to try to make it look like basically, they must have done this one and the judge let that information in and made it look bad in front of the jury and therefore, he should get a new trial. So, there are grounds to do that depending on the circumstances of the case.
Obviously, your criminal defense lawyer would have kept track of all the rulings that they felt were not fair and violated the law in the trial, then they could file such a motion, and certainly, if the motion wasn’t granted for the new trial, then the appellate court could hear and decide whether or not you deserve a new trial.
The problem with these motions for new trials where you claim there was a bad ruling is that the judge who made the ruling is going to have to decide on the new trial motion.
Error of Law by the Court
So, in my experience – and I’ve been doing this for twenty-five years and have done a lot of jury trials in that time – the judge who made the ruling on the case is not likely to overrule themselves and say, I did make a mistake and I am going to give you a new trial.
You’ll have to bring them some law that’s right on point that shows that they messed up and then they’d have to find that the error that they made had a significant impact on the criminal case and was not just some harmless error. So, this angle for a motion for a new trial is probably not going to fly, but again your attorney will assess it or your new attorney will assess it.
They’re going to have to now read the entire trial – or at least that portion which might be objectionable – in order to assess whether or not a new trial motion makes sense.
Newly Discovered Evidence
Another ground for a new trial motion is newly-discovered evidence. Now that the trial is over, we’ve found some evidence that if we had that evidence, we could have won the case. We could have blocked the prosecutor’s main argument or we could have bolstered our defense theory of the case.
So, we’ve discovered some new evidence. We want a new trial. We want to be able to put that evidence on. But of course, the judge and the prosecutor are not going to want to try the case again. Neither one of them – as much as they might have liked you and your defense attorney – are going to want to hear evidence again in a new case so, they’re going to try to figure out how they can get out of doing a new trial, and the first thing the judge is going to say is, wait a minute. Why didn’t you use this evidence in the first place?
You’re going to have to overcome that argument. They’re going to say if you had access to this evidence you should have gotten it. You should have found it. So, you’re going to have to be able to – or your defense attorney is going to have to be able to mount an argument if you want a new trial in a Los Angeles County court. You’re going to have to be able to say, no I couldn’t have found this before and show the reason why.
This evidence was not available to me, number one – and number two, with this evidence, you’re going to have to make the argument that I can win the case because – and you have to show the judge why. And again, the prosecutor is going to object to it and you’re going to have to be able to mount a pretty strong argument that you or your attorney couldn’t have found this evidence and that this evidence is really going to change the outcome of the case for you. Those are two big hurdles to jump when it comes to a new trial motion.
Reviewing Your Case With a Criminal Lawyer
So, if you’re looking to file a new trial motion and there are other ways to get it granted, you’re going to want to sit down with an attorney. You’re going to want to explain to the attorney without putting a spin on things, what you believe the issue is in your trial, because maybe that attorney that you’re talking to doesn’t have all the facts and circumstances surrounding your trial and once you explain it to them if they decide to take your case, they quote you a fee and you retain them, then they’re going to have to get the record from the trial, review it and figure out their own arguments related to the new trial motion.
If the attorney that did the trial is the one that’s going to file the new trial motion, then obviously you’re going to have to rely on them to figure out whether you have grounds and what arguments they can make to get that new trial motion granted.
Obviously, you discuss it with them, but they will have the facts and circumstances necessary to help make the determination whether a new trial motion makes sense in your case and what the likelihood is of success. If the new trial motion is granted then you get a new trial, a jury is picked again, and there will be a decision made at the end whether you’re innocent or guilty of each and every one of the crimes that you’re charged with.
So, these new trial motions can be a very effective weapon, because they give you another bite at the apple, but at the same time, they’re very difficult to get granted. The judges are going to take this new trial motions on a case-by-case basis. They’re going to look at all the surrounding facts of the case, and of course, they’re going to have an eye towards denying the new trial motion. So, you’re really going to have some good grounds to get it granted.
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