Under What Circumstances Can My Criminal Case Be Reopened If I Was Found Guilty?
If your criminal trial has ended in conviction, you are naturally hoping for a second chance to clear your name. This is particularly true if new evidence has surfaced that could exonerate you completely. What can you do in a case like this? Are there any circumstances under which a judge might agree to reopen your case?
If you’re hoping to carry on with your original trial, the answer will always be no. Regardless of the severity of the crime in question, a reinstatement of the identical proceeding would constitute double jeopardy. However, any person who believes his conviction to have been both unjust and invalid can always file a motion for a new trial. This move is particularly useful in cases for which new evidence could stand in your favor.
The motion will differ from an appeal in several ways. For instance, whereas an appeal will always transition to a higher court, a new trial will take place in the same court as the original. Perhaps even more relevant is the fact that while a simple appeal will not allow for the submission of any evidence other than that already introduced, a new trial does make this possible.
Despite the apparent benefits of a new trial over an appeal, however, many convicted defendants never attempt to secure one. There are numerous reasons for this. Chief among them is the fact that judges are often loathe to grant new trials in criminal cases. When they do, it is almost always on the grounds of correcting some error or inequity that transpired during the original court case.
The commonest reasons for granting a new trial include:
- The emergence of new and previously undiscoverable evidence that bears directly and favorably on the defendant’s case. This documentation or testimony must be original and substantially different from any brought forth in your earlier trial. The new evidence must also do more than simply discredit or contradict the testimony of a prior witness. It must also point to the probability of the new trial returning a different verdict.
- Judicial error. The courts may also grant you a new trial if your attorney can demonstrate that harmful and prejudicial blunders during the original proceeding substantially encroached upon your rights or adversely affected the outcome. The list of such gaffes can run the gamut. The judge in your original case may have handed down a legally incorrect ruling or misdirected the jury about a matter of law. The misrepresentation of witness testimony by a court-appointed translator might also be enough to do the trick.
- Gross and prejudicial misconduct on the part of prosecutor or jury. A serious transgression will have occurred if the original prosecutor failed to disclose evidence that might have led to your acquittal. Jurors, too, can be at fault for such behaviors as giving false information during jury selection, conducting improper deliberations, contacting one or more witnesses or having access to evidence not admitted at trial.
- Missing trial records or transcripts. A defendant who wishes to appeal his conviction will need to produce comprehensive documentation from the original proceeding. When the loss of any records makes an appeal impossible, the court may approve a new trial.
- Incompetent defense. If the bungling efforts of an ineffective defense attorney have unfairly influenced the outcome of your original proceeding, you may have legitimate grounds for a new trial. For example, your attorney might have failed to call a certain witness or produce physical evidence to support your alibi. Any incompetent attorney might also have missed vital deadlines, failed to file crucial motions or neglected in his duty to explain your rights.
- Insufficient, conflicting or erroneously admitted evidence. A new trial may be possible if the bulk of the evidence submitted during the original was excessively contradictory to the point of failing to support the guilty verdict. Furthermore, if the evidence that led to the original conviction should prove to have been seriously insufficient, the judge can declare a miscarriage of justice, acquit the defendant and dismiss the charges entirely.
- Perjury. If you can prove that one or more of the prosecution’s original witnesses lied under oath, the courts may grant you a new trial. However, your criminal attorney must demonstrate that the evidence has just now surfaced, was undiscoverable during the original trial and would have led to a different outcome had it been known at the time.
If Nevada courts have convicted you of a crime, the attorneys at Weiner Law Group may be able to win you a second chance. However, the window of opportunity for filing the necessary motion can be shorter than you think. For a free consultation concerning your chances of obtaining a new trial and discussion of your other options, call Weiner Law today at 702-202-0500 or fill out our contact form.