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Preserve your right to appeal after trial – Rule 29 and Rule 33 motions in RI

September 13, 2017

Motioning for a new trial in Rhode Island?  Were you convicted at trial?  Wondering how you can have the verdict vacated or obtain a new trial? 

If you went through the difficulties and challenges of a trial in Superior Court and lost, you are likely wondering what your option is for appeal.  The good news is that you have options.  First, you want to be sure your attorney filed both a Rule 29 Motion for a Judgment of Acquittal and a Rule 33 Motion for New Trial.  But this must be done in a timely manner. 

The meaning of “judgement of acquittal” and motion for a “new trial,” explained.  Simply put, these are two procedural mechanisms a defendant may use to have the case dismissed, or to have the court order the conviction vacated pending a new trial.   These two motions are critical steps in a trial on criminal charges in Rhode Island, and you should speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney about how the law on these motions work in your own case.

When you motion for a Rule 29 Motion for Judgement of Acquittal, you are essentially asking the judge to find that the evidence set forth by the state is insufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.  A Rule 29 Motion for Judgement of Acquittal is a high burden to meet, because the trial judge is allowed to look at the evidence “in the light most favorable” to the State – essentially meaning the state has the benefit of the doubt.

However, on a Rule 33 Motion for a New Trial, the state does not enjoy the favorable treatment it gets under Rule 29.  With a Motion for a New Trial, the trial judge gets to sit as “the legendary thirteenth juror” and independently weigh the credibility of witnesses and the evidence. If the trial justice conducts an analysis and determines that he or she disagrees with the jury’s verdict, a new trial may be granted.

So when you ask the court for a new trial under Rule 33, you enjoy a lesser burden than in a Rule 29 motion, but both Motions should be made to preserve all your rights.  If you are heading to trial or have not yet finished your trial, be sure to speak to your attorney about making both a Rule 29 Motion and  Rule 33 Motion in a timely manner to preserve your rights.  If the trial judge denies your motions, your next step may be the Rhode Island Supreme Court, but you want to be sure that you have not waived any arguments for their review.  Contact an experienced Rhode Island criminal defense attorney for more information about Rule 29 and Rule 33 motions in Rhode Island before proceeding.

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