Arrests happen. According to data from the Michigan State Police Criminal Justice Information Center, there were more than 600,000 criminal offenses recorded in the state in 2021 alone. Of course, a criminal charge is not the same thing as a criminal conviction. Every person is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. That being said, trial courts also make mistakes. A conviction can be appealed. You will need to raise specific grounds for appeal to successfully challenge a conviction. Here, our Michigan appellate law attorney provides an overview of the most common ground for appealing a criminal conviction in Michigan.
Background: Appeal is Not a Retrial—You Must Have Grounds of Appeal
To start, it is important to emphasize the point that an appeal is not a retrial. The American Bar Association (ABA) explains that “appeals courts do not usually consider new witnesses or new evidence.” The role of the appeals court is to correct serious legal or procedural errors. It is imperative that you raise clear, convincing grounds for appeal within your written appellate brief. The term “grounds for appeal” simply means the reason why the appeal is being made. Appeals are not automatic. The party challenging a trial court’s decision must raise grounds for appeal.
An Overview of the Most Common Grounds for a Criminal Appeal in Michigan
Your first-level appeal of a criminal conviction in Michigan will go before the Michigan Court of Appeals. As noted by the Clerk’s Office of the Michigan Court of Appeals, there are four separate appellate districts in the state (District I in Detroit, District II in Troy, District III in Grand Rapids, and District IV in Lansing). No matter the district you are appealing in, you must cite grounds for appeal of a criminal conviction. Here is an overview of the most common grounds for appeal:
- False Arrest (Illegal Arrest): An appeal of a criminal conviction in Michigan can be initiated on the grounds of false arrest. An illegal arrest is generally one that violates the constitutional rights of the accused. If the arrest was unlawful—and the trial court did not correctly take that into account—the conviction may be fundamentally flawed.
- Problems With Evidence (Evidentiary Errors): Did the trial court allow unreliable evidence or testimony to be heard? Did the trial court mistakenly or unfairly keep evidence that would help exonerate you from the case? A criminal conviction in Michigan can be appealed based on problems with the evidence.
- Misapplied Law: The Michigan Court of Appeals is responsible for ensuring that the trial courts apply the law correctly. If state law was misapplied—and a conviction was ultimately entered based, at least in part, on a misapplication of law—the defendant may have grounds to overturn the ruling on appeal.
- Unconstitutional Law: Though challenging, a criminal conviction in Michigan can also be challenged on the grounds that the law itself is unconstitutional. If the Michigan Court of Appeals rules a state statute unconstitutional, a criminal conviction that was entered based on it could be overturned.
- Ineffective Assistance of Counsel: Every person in the United States who is facing criminal charges has the right to an attorney. Notably, you have the right to a reasonably competent legal advocate. If your Michigan criminal defense lawyer was professionally negligent, you may have grounds to appeal the conviction based on ineffective assistance of counsel.
- Misconduct (Prosecutor, Judge, or Jury): Criminal convictions in Michigan can be appealed on the grounds of misconduct. If the prosecutor, the judge, or the jury engaged in serious misconduct, it could mean that the trial—and the conviction—was tainted. Prosecutorial misconduct, judicial misconduct, and jury misconduct are all grounds for appealing a criminal conviction in Michigan.
Get Help From Our Michigan Appellate Law Attorney Today
At The Appellate Law Firm, our Michigan criminal appellate lawyers are standing by, ready to help to get justice and the best outcome. If you have any questions about the grounds for appeal in Michigan, we are here to help. Contact us now for your fully confidential case review. From our headquarters in Mt Clemens, we handle criminal appeals throughout Michigan, including in Detroit, Grand Rapids, Warren, Sterling Heights, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Flint, and Clinton Township.