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What is a retrial?

In its most basic definition, a retrial is a second (or further) trial on the same issues with the same parties. It’s not treated as an extension of the first trial, as new evidence can be called, but a retrial is only possible when a jury is unable to reach a verdict or the case has to be stopped for the jury to consider all of the evidence.

Since 2005, it’s also been possible for individuals to be tried twice for the same charge when they had previously been acquitted, however, with substantial developments in DNA testing and fingerprint identification, new evidence can be found, proving highly useful in altering the verdict that the jury originally reached.

When might a retrial be granted?

In many cases, retrials are arranged due to the nature and circumstances of the case, so you will typically see retrials used for the most serious high-profile cases, such as murder, manslaughter, kidnapping and sex crimes. Retrials may be needed in the following circumstances:

Jurors fail to agree upon a verdict

There are times when jurors do not reach a majority, leading to a hung jury. In these situations, a retrial can be granted. Retrials can take place within two weeks, especially if the defendant is required to remain in custody.

Magistrates fail to agree upon a verdict

In cases whereby Magistrates fail to agree a final verdict, the court can arrange a retrial with the permission of the reviewing lawyer. That said, not every case will be suitable for a retrial, and in such a situation the bench would usually comprise an odd number of Magistrates to avoid any possibility of a split decision.

The Court of Appeal orders one

The Court of Appeal reviews appeals against convictions made in the Crown Court, dealing with a small number of civil and criminal cases. An Attorney General can also appeal against a conviction if the sentence is overly lenient or following an acquittal, while appeals can also be made on the basis of new evidence emanating – yet the evidence must be reviewed by the Court of Appeal for a retrial to go ahead.

A Tainted Acquittal

A tainted acquittal is where an acquittal results from the interference with, or intimidation of, a juror, witness or potential witness. In such a situation, an acquitted individual can be retried for the original offence, as well as other offences relating to the Administration of Justice.

Convincing new evidence

At times, new evidence can come to light, meaning it’s possible for a retrial to take place. A retrial in these circumstances falls under part 10 of the Criminal Justice Act 2003. The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) must review the evidence and a retrial can only take place after written consent is provided.

Why are retrials more likely in high-profile cases?

High-profile crimes that are very serious are more likely to receive a retrial than a lower-profile case of lower severity. One of the reasons for this is because an unexpected acquittal in a high-profile case leads to immediate pressure for police to collect further evidence as well as added pressure on the court system.

R v Evans and McDonald

One of the most high-profile cases (in the UK) in recent years, was R v Evans and McDonald. As a footballer who progressed through Manchester City’s ranks and played for Wales, Ched Evans was sentenced to five years’ imprisonment for raping a 19-year-old woman, while another footballer, Clayton McDonald, was cleared. The extensive media coverage ignited a fierce debate in the UK regarding whether or not the complainant’s sexual history should have been considered by the jury.

How new material paved the way for a retrial

Media interest grew once more as Evans’ legal team launched an attempt to appeal the conviction in April 2012, but a single judge of the Court of Appeal ultimately refused this. Evans’ newly recruited legal team launched his second appeal attempt in October 2014 via the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC). The CCRC consequently referred the trial to the Court of Appeal in October 2015 “based on new material which was not considered by the jury at trial.”

In light of this new material, which was not considered by the jury, the Court of Appeal quashed Evan’s conviction and a retrial was ordered – taking place on 4 October 2016 at Cardiff Crown Court. In the main, the new evidence came from other men who had consensual sex with the woman, as they testified that her sexual behaviour was similar to that described by Evans. On 14 October, Evans was found not guilty. With such a high level of interest, in order to avoid prejudicing the retrial, a publication ban was enforced, prohibiting the publication of details regarding the appeal until the retrial was complete.

Why specialist advice is key

Retrials can be complex and confusing, while procedures can vary considerably from case to case. It’s therefore essential to have expert advice every step of the way, with an experienced legal team fighting for your rights. At Noble, our Barristers and Advocates have represented many high profile cases, drawing upon the specialist knowledge of our vastly experienced staff. If you’re seeking advice on evidence coming to light in relation to a crime you were previously acquitted of, or wish to learn more about our legal services, please get in touch with Noble Solicitors today on 07000 81 82 83.

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