Criminal Trial Post-Trial Steps: Appeals, Reviews & Processes

An error occurred trying to load this video.

Try refreshing the page, or contact customer support.

Coming up next: Types & Goals of Contemporary Criminal Sentencing

You're on a roll. Keep up the good work!

Take Quiz Watch Next Lesson
Your next lesson will play in 10 seconds
  • 0:02 Criminal Trials
  • 0:24 Motions
  • 2:35 Sentencing
  • 3:48 Appeal
  • 5:08 Lesson Summary
Save Save Save

Want to watch this again later?

Log in or sign up to add this lesson to a Custom Course.

Log in or Sign up

Speed Speed

Recommended Lessons and Courses for You

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Williams

Jennifer has taught various courses in U.S. Government, Criminal Law, Business, Public Administration and Ethics and has an MPA and a JD.

In this lesson, we will learn about the post-trial steps after a criminal trial. We will look at what these steps are and what the appellate review process entails. Then, we'll explore some specific examples of each.

Criminal Trials

A criminal trial is when two parties, a prosecutor representing the government and a defense attorney representing the accused, meet in court before a judge or jury in order to present evidence to support their case. After the criminal trial is finished, important post-trial steps are taken.


Motions are pleadings filed with the court before, during or after a trial asking for a hearing or a ruling on something relevant to the case. Motions are typically filed by one party, and then the other side is given a few weeks to file their own response on how they think the court should rule on the motion. Then, it is set before the court for arguments.

Post-trial, there are several different motions that may be filed. The first is called a motion for a new trial. The motion asks the judge to vacate, or dismiss, the verdict and allow a new trial. This rarely - if ever - is granted unless the interests of justice require it. An example of when a motion for a new trial is granted is if important evidence is admitted or excluded incorrectly or the jury was not instructed properly.

A second motion that may be filed post-trial is a motion for judgment of acquittal. This motion asks the judge to set aside a jury's verdict and allow a defendant to go free. This motion is made on the grounds that the jury could not reasonably have reached a guilty verdict. One example of when a motion of this type would be considered would be if a jury found a defendant guilty of murder. Upon review of the evidence, there was little to no evidence to link this particular defendant to the crime and, despite the evidence being lacking, the jury found the defendant guilty anyway. It would be in a circumstance such as this that the filing for a motion for judgment of acquittal be considered.

A third motion that may be filed post-trial is a motion to vacate, set aside or correct a sentence. A motion of this type is usually made due to a monumental or incorrect error being made in sentencing. An example of when a motion of this type would be made is in the case of a defendant receiving probation on a case when the crime he was charged with actually carried mandatory prison time.


A few days or a few months post-trial, a defendant will appear in front of the judge again for sentencing. During sentencing, the defendant will find out what his punishment will be for the crime of which he was found guilty. The judge looks at information from several different sources in determining what a sentence will be. After a defendant is found guilty, he reports for a pre-sentence investigative report. This report reviews the defendant's criminal, educational and psychological background, his current situation, the facts of the case and the victim's wishes and makes a recommendation to the judge for sentencing.

On the sentencing date, the judge will take the report into consideration, listen to the prosecutor's arguments and the defendant's arguments and make her decision. The judge can take many things into consideration, including whether the defendant has committed similar crimes before, if the defendant has mental health issues and/or if the defendant has expressed remorse. There are also guidelines that are set that vary by state that assist judges in finding the appropriate sanction for a crime.

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account