Motions Based on Newly Discovered Evidence
In California, Defendants Who Believe They Were Wrongfully Convicted Based Upon the Discovery of Newly Discovered evidence Have Multiple Ways of Getting Recourse. One of Those Avenues is to File a Motion for a New Trial Under Penal Code Section 1181. Another Alternative is to File a Motion to Vacate Judgment Under Penal Code Section 1473.6. Each of These Options Provide a Defendant With a Unique Opportunity to Present Compelling Evidence That Was Not Available During the Initial Trial, With the Hope of Rectifying Miscarriages of Justice. Both of These Options, However, Contain Several Procedural Hurdles That a Defendant Must Overcome.Motion to Vacate Judgment (Penal Code Section 1473.6)
Penal Code section 1473.6 governs motions to vacate judgment based on newly discovered evidence. This statute recognizes that there may be instances where new evidence comes to light after a defendant's conviction that could potentially undermine the validity of the conviction, such as debunked science presented by an expert witness or advancements in DNA technology. To be successful, the motion must successfully contain a supporting declaration and must establish the following:
Newly Discovered Evidence: The evidence must have been discovered after the judgment was entered and could not have been discovered with reasonable diligence during the trial.
Materiality: The newly discovered evidence must be material and reasonably likely to have changed the outcome of the trial if presented.
Impact on the Defendant's Rights: The defendant must show that the newly discovered evidence is of such significance that it probably would have affected the verdict in their favor.
If the court finds the motion and supporting documents sufficient, an evidentiary hearing will be conducted to evaluate the credibility and weight of the newly discovered evidence. If the court determines that the evidence meets the required criteria following the evidentiary hearing, the court may vacate the judgment and remand the case back to the trial court. At that point, the District Attorney would have to either retry the case, dismiss it in the interests of justice, or come to an alternative disposition.Motion for a New Trial (Penal Code Section 1181)
Penal Code section 1181 governs motions for a new trial based on newly discovered evidence. This statute also acknowledges that in the interest of justice, a defendant should have the opportunity to present evidence that was not available during the initial trial. To succeed in a motion for a new trial, the motion must successfully contain a supporting declaration and must establish the following:
New Evidence: The evidence must have come to light after the trial and could not have been discovered with reasonable diligence at the time of the trial.
Materiality: The newly discovered evidence must be material and likely to have changed the outcome of the trial if presented.
Diligence: The defendant must demonstrate that they exercised due diligence in discovering the evidence before or during the trial.
If the court finds the motion and supporting documents sufficient, an evidentiary hearing will also be conducted, with the same purpose stated above. If the court determines that the evidence meets the required criteria following the evidentiary hearing, the court may order that the defendant be retried.
Ultimately, these types of motions play a crucial role in upholding the principles of justice and protecting the rights of the accused. They provide an avenue for defendants to present evidence that could potentially exonerate them or cast doubt on the validity of their conviction. Advanced DNA technology has been a key component of many motions based on newly discovered evidence.
If you have been convicted of a crime and believe that newly discovered evidence warrants vacating your judgment or granting you a new trial, it is necessary that you discuss your case immediately with a knowledgeable and aggressive criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Michael Kraut has worked extensively in the post-conviction realm, successfully advocating for wrongfully convicted clients.
For more information about the criminal justice process, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1520, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.