What’s the Difference Between a DUI Appeal and Filing a Motion for a New Trial?

If you are acquitted of DUI after a jury trial, you walk out of the courtroom with no further legal concerns with regard to the charges you faced. The prosecutor cannot appeal an acquittal by a jury or ask for a mistrial after the verdict has been returned. But if you are found guilty, you have the right to file a motion for a new trial.

Other than the issue of ineffective assistance of counsel, several reasons may exist to file a motion for a new trial. First, a new trial may be granted by the judge if the verdict is contrary to the evidence and the principles of justice and equity are decidedly and strongly against the weight of the evidence, or if your DUI lawyer was ineffective.

Another reason for a new trial would be if new evidence is discovered after the verdict, although the requirements for this are very strict.

If I Am Denied a New DUI Trial, Can I Still Appeal?

Yes, you can. The two processes look at different concerns. If granted, the motion for a new trial is available to you because something significantly unjust happened at trial, and the judge agrees that a new trial without the improper act or evidence is justified without asking an appellate court to review it.

An appeal is usually based upon the occurrence of a legal mistake made at trial. While the two overlap, they each have different “aspects” or issues to be considered, and are each considered separately.

What is a DUI Directed Verdict of Acquittal?

A DUI directed verdict of acquittal (also called an “instructed verdict of acquittal” in some jurisdictions) is a ruling by the judge that the evidence demands a verdict of not guilty. An example where this would be true would be where the prosecutor totally failed to put up any evidence that supported a critical aspect of the charges. This type of motion goes to the presence or absence of evidence on a critical issue (such as a missing element of the offense charged), not to the weight of the evidence.

In a DUI-DWI trial, a directed verdict might occur if for some reason all evidence of your blood test result or breath test result was prohibited from being considered as evidence. This prohibition would likely come about in the middle of your trial because your attorney successfully made a legal argument that this evidence must be excluded.

Can a Judge Direct a Jury to Return a Verdict of GUILTY?

In a DUI jury trial, it is the jury who determines the question of your guilt or innocence. If a judge were to direct a jury to return a verdict of guilty, this would be impermissible and excellent grounds for an appeal. Only a few judges ignorant of the law would make such an overt error.

Your criminal lawyer, however, must be watchful that a pro-prosecution judge does not “communicate” his or her desire or belief that you are guilty of the DUI-DWI offense or offenses. This type of “telegraphing” of how he or she thinks is usually very subtle.