Let’s say you are facing criminal charges and instead of pleading guilty or taking a plea bargain, you decide to take your chances at trial. But what if you don’t have a good outcome? What if you end up being convicted? Now, you’re wondering, “Can I ask the court for a new trial?” You can ask the court for a new trial, but there is no guarantee that the court will grant it.
If you were not pleased with the outcome of your case, you have every right to see if it’s worth pursuing a new trial. In this article, we explain filing a motion for a new trial and when it makes sense to use this legal tool.
Was There a Legal Error?
When a criminal trial results in a conviction, the defendant can ask the court for a new trial. To do this, the defense files a motion for a new trial with the court. Generally, courts only grant these motions under three circumstances: 1) when the trial itself involved a significant legal error, 2) when new and very important evidence was later discovered, or 3) when there has been a miscarriage of justice. Simply put, a new trial is typically granted when some type of error has occurred and it’s prevented the defendant from receiving the fair trial he or she deserves. One example is a judge who excluded evidence that should have been included, and such evidence could have made all the difference in the jurors’ verdict.
When There’s New Evidence
Another reason to grant a new trial is the discovery of new evidence. For the new evidence to be sufficient enough to grant a new trial, the defense must have not known about it during the trial, it must have not been practical to discover before or during the trial, and it must be strong enough that it could cause a jury to reach a different verdict. What you need to know about motions for new trials:
- Typically, defendants make motions for new trials after they have been found guilty.
- In some jurisdictions, judges can order a new trial without asking defendants about it.
- Prosecutors can’t ask for new trials due to the double jeopardy principle.
- In some cases, prosecutors can appeal a judge’s grant of a new trial.
- If a defendant’s motion for a new trial is approved it’s as if their case goes back to square one. The case can be tried all over again but before a different jury.
Related: Waiving a Trial By Jury in Texas