California New Trial Motion versus Criminal Appeal
In California, there is a difference between a motion for a new trial versus an appeal. Though both types of relief can encompass the same issues, they take place before different courts. For example, a new trial motion is litigated before the trial judge whereas an appeal is litigating before the appellate court.
A motion for a new trial must be filed and litigated prior to a criminal defendant being sentenced. Ordinarily, a new trial motion is filed shortly after a criminal defendant was convicted by a jury. It highlights the errors that occurred during trial and aims that a new trial should be ordered given that the errors prejudiced the outcome of the trial. Once a defendant has been sentenced, they have lost their ability to file a new trial motion.
A criminal appeal is similar, but it is litigated before the California Court of Appeal. Appellate counsel reads the trial transcripts and articulates issues to the appellate court that remanding the case to the trial court is necessary. A motion for new trial is often times helpful for appellate counsel since appellate counsel can better understand the issues that occurred during trial.
In almost all cases, trial counsel and appellate counsel are different attorney’s. Namely, there is an appearance of conflict when trial counsel also handles the appeal since trial counsel has a major incentive in not claiming ineffective assistance of counsel. A fresh set of eyes is crucial when handling appeals.