Penal Code 1118 | Motion for New Trial


Penal Code 1118 | Motion for New Trial

In California criminal law, Penal Code 1118 allows a defendant to request a new trial after a guilty verdict is entered. This motion argues that the conviction is contrary to the evidence or against the law.

A motion for new trial gives the defense a chance to challenge the fairness of the trial and conviction. Let’s take a closer look at the grounds for a new trial motion, how the process works, and strategies for succeeding.

What is a Motion for New Trial Under PC 1118?

A motion for new trial under Penal Code 1118 is a request for the judge to vacate a guilty verdict and order a new trial. Grounds for the motion include:

  • Verdict is contrary to the evidence presented at trial
  • Jury verdict is contrary to law
  • Error in law occurred at the trial
  • Jury misconduct
  • New evidence discovered

The motion must be filed before sentencing takes place. It gives the defense a chance to argue the trial was unfair or the conviction should not stand.

When Can a New Trial Motion Be Filed?

The timing for filing a new trial motion under California law is:

  • Within 15 days after the verdict if a misdemeanor case
  • Before sentencing for felony cases

The motion suspends the judgment until the court rules on the motion. This delays sentencing from taking place until the request for a new trial is decided.

Grounds for Requesting a New Trial

Reasons the defense can request a new trial under PC 1118 include:

Verdict Contrary to the Evidence

The defense can argue the guilty verdict was not supported by the trial evidence. For example, key exculpatory evidence was ignored or the prosecution did not meet their burden of proof.

Verdict Contrary to Law

The conviction violated the law, such as the jury being improperly instructed on the legal standards.

Legal Error During Trial

Significant legal errors occurred such as improperly admitted evidence, incorrect jury instructions, or misconduct by the judge or prosecutors.

New Evidence Discovered

New evidence was found after trial that likely would have changed the verdict. Strict requirements apply to qualify as “newly discovered.”

Jury Misconduct

Misconduct by the jury influenced the verdict, such as researching the case independently or bias/conflicts of interest.

How a Motion for New Trial Works

The process for a new trial motion under Penal Code 1118 involves:

  1. Defense attorney files the motion stating the grounds
  2. Prosecution files an opposition responding to allegations
  3. Hearing held for arguments from both sides
  4. Judge decides whether a new trial is warranted

If granted, the conviction is reversed and a new trial date is scheduled. If denied, sentencing on the conviction can proceed.

Strategies for Winning a New Trial Motion

While new trial motions are not always granted, certain strategies can help improve the chances. These include:

  • Acting quickly – don’t wait to file the motion
  • Specifying the strongest grounds in detail
  • Submitting supporting evidence like affidavits
  • Ordering trial transcripts to identify errors
  • Researching case law backing your position
  • Effective oral advocacy at the hearing

An experienced criminal defense lawyer is essential for crafting a compelling new trial motion.

Benefits of Filing a Motion for New Trial

Benefits of requesting a new trial under Penal Code 1118 include:

  • Chance to reverse an unfair or improper conviction
  • Opportunity to identify issues and correct them before retrial
  • Delaying sentencing from taking place
  • Additional time to negotiate with the prosecution

Even if a new trial is not granted, filing the motion can still be advantageous in some cases.

Consult an Experienced Criminal Defense Attorney

Don’t wait until after sentencing to challenge a conviction – important rights may be waived. Acting quickly to file a new trial motion under PC 1118 is essential.

An experienced criminal defense lawyer can evaluate the grounds in your case, handle the filing process, and passionately argue for a new trial at the hearing. This provides the best chance at reversing an unfair conviction.

Don’t leave this to chance. The right legal guidance can make all the difference in succeeding on a new trial motion.