California Laws About a Motion for a New Trial

December 23, 2017

In California, a guilty verdict in a criminal trial does not always mean the finding of guilt is final. Penal Code 1181 pc provides the legal basis for a new trial or another trial on certain charges.[1] The following is a list of issues, among others, that afford a criminal defendant a new trial:

  1. Jury instructional error
  2. Prosecutorial Misconduct
  3. New Evidence in the Case
  4. Ineffective Assistance of Counsel
  5. Insufficient Evidence
  6. Jury Misconduct


If a motion for a new trial is successful, the court will order a re-trial of the case and the process will start all over. The process is extremely tedious requiring the criminal attorney to read through the entire trial transcript, conduct research on the applicable issues, and draft a lengthy motion to convince the judge in holding another trial.

A new trial motion must be filed timely or it will be denied. For instance, if a criminal defendant has already been sentenced, then the appropriate vehicle for address the trial issues is an appeal.

It’s important to note that judges do make mistakes and erroneously admit evidence which should have been excluded. Additionally, judge do not want a case to be overturned on appeal on the basis of their error. Accordingly, if your attorney can spot and article prejudicial error within the trial, then the judge is more liable to order a new trial. Furthermore, if the new trial motion is denied, the motion provides an excellent product for your criminal appellate attorney to review and argue before the California Court of Appeal.

Contact Us to Schedule a Free Consultation

If you or a loved one has been found guilty in a criminal jury trial and you wish to file a new trial motion, contact our office today to speak with a reputable and experienced Newport Beach criminal defense lawyer. Call the Law Offices of John D. Rogers today to schedule a free confidential consultation. Our office has extensive experience handling post-conviction motions and writs & appeals.

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Legal References:

[1] Penal Code 1181 – defined (“When a verdict has been rendered or a finding made against the defendant, the court may, upon his application, grant a new trial, in the following cases only:

1. When the trial has been had in his absence except in cases where the trial may lawfully proceed in his absence;

2. When the jury has received any evidence out of court, other than that resulting from a view of the premises, or of personal property;

3. When the jury has separated without leave of the court after retiring to deliberate upon their verdict, or been guilty of any misconduct by which a fair and due consideration of the case has been prevented;

4. When the verdict has been decided by lot, or by any means other than a fair expression of opinion on the part of all the jurors;

5. When the court has misdirected the jury in a matter of law, or has erred in the decision of any question of law arising during the course of the trial, and when the district attorney or other counsel prosecuting the case has been guilty of prejudicial misconduct during the trial thereof before a jury;

6. When the verdict or finding is contrary to law or evidence, but if the evidence shows the defendant to be not guilty of the degree of the crime of which he was convicted, but guilty of a lesser degree thereof, or of a lesser crime included therein, the court may modify the verdict, finding or judgment accordingly without granting or ordering a new trial, and this power shall extend to any court to which the cause may be appealed;

7. When the verdict or finding is contrary to law or evidence, but in any case wherein authority is vested by statute in the trial court or jury to recommend or determine as a part of its verdict or finding the punishment to be imposed, the court may modify such verdict or finding by imposing the lesser punishment without granting or ordering a new trial, and this power shall extend to any court to which the case may be appealed;

8. When new evidence is discovered material to the defendant, and which he could not, with reasonable diligence, have discovered and produced at the trial.  When a motion for a new trial is made upon the ground of newly discovered evidence, the defendant must produce at the hearing, in support thereof, the affidavits of the witnesses by whom such evidence is expected to be given, and if time is required by the defendant to procure such affidavits, the court may postpone the hearing of the motion for such length of time as, under all circumstances of the case, may seem reasonable.

9. When the right to a phonographic report has not been waived, and when it is not possible to have a phonographic report of the trial transcribed by a stenographic reporter as provided by law or by rule because of the death or disability of a reporter who participated as a stenographic reporter at the trial or because of the loss or destruction, in whole or in substantial part, of the notes of such reporter, the trial court or a judge, thereof, or the reviewing court shall have power to set aside and vacate the judgment, order or decree from which an appeal has been taken or is to be taken and to order a new trial of the action or proceeding.”)

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