New trials

When the prosecutor or the person who has been convicted in a criminal case can no longer appeal against the verdict to a higher court, it is said that the verdict has gained legal force.

A verdict that has gained legal force cannot normally be reversed. This is because citizens shall be able to trust that verdicts apply in accordance with their content, a factor that is of fundamental importance for the stability of the legal system and at the same time very important for the entitlement of citizens to security.

The fact that a verdict which has gained legal force cannot normally be reversed also means a definite end to the preliminary investigation of the crime for which the verdict applies. After this, the police and the prosecutor cannot normally take any new investigative measures on the same subject. One of the few options that remain for opposing a verdict that has come into force is, with the support of new circumstances or evidence, to apply for and be granted a new trial.

If it is clear that there is no reason to grant a new trial, the Supreme Court normally directly rejects the application. Otherwise the Prosecutor-General expresses his/her opinion on the application. Anyone wishing to apply for a new hearing of an appeals court verdict can also contact the Prosecutor-General for help.

It is in principle the party claiming that the verdict is wrong who must show that there is reason to grant a new trial.  As regards convictions in criminal cases, it is therefore in the first instance a task for the person who has been convicted. There is a considerable difference compared with criminal actions, where it is the prosecutor who has to prove that the suspect is guilty.

The number of applications for new trials made to the Prosecutor-General per year is not that great, but the cases are often very complex and of considerable interest to the mass media.