The Michigan Criminal Appeals Process
If you have been convicted of a crime, then you have heard lawyers talk about your constitutional rights, such as due process and protection from cruel and unusual punishment. What if you have been wrongfully convicted or received an unfair sentence? Whether the problem was biased jurors, unfairly excluded evidence, or being pressured to plead guilty, it is not too late to seek justice. You can still exercise your rights by filing an appeal in criminal appeals court. The Michigan criminal appeals lawyers at The Appellate Law Firm, with offices located in Mount Clemens can help you appeal your conviction or sentence.
Appeals Brought by the Defendant
Because of the “no double jeopardy” rule, once you are acquitted, you are innocent of the charge forever, but if you are found guilty, you still have the right to appeal. These are some reasons that defendants file criminal appeals:
- The jurors at your trial were biased toward the prosecution.
- The prosecution withheld exculpatory evidence from your lawyer.
- The judge refused to allow your lawyer to show some evidence.
You can appeal your sentence if it is excessively harsh or exceeds the legally allowed maximum, even if you accept that the jury convicted you, and even if you pleaded guilty to your charges.
These are the steps of the criminal appeals process:
- Notice of Appeal: This is a document you submit to the appeals court. In your notice of appeal, you specify whether your intention is to appeal your verdict or sentence.
- Filing the Record on Appeal: Your lawyer will help you get copies of the transcripts of the court hearings and the trial, as well as all other relevant documents. The record on appeal does not include any new evidence. You are just trying to show that the trial court was wrong, and you deserve a new trial (where you could present new evidence, if you have it) or a new sentence. During this phase, the prosecution also submits a brief presenting their arguments.
- Oral Argument: Your lawyer and the prosecution lawyers appear before the appeals court to present their arguments and to answer the judges’ questions about the arguments.
- Decision: After hearing the oral arguments, the Appellate Court affirms or reverses the verdict.
Appeals Brought by the Government
The “no double jeopardy” rule means that, if a jury returns a “not guilty” verdict, the prosecution does not have the right to appeal the verdict. An acquittal is forever. The prosecution does, however, have the right to appeal decisions about other aspects of criminal cases. Many of these decisions take place before the prosecution and defense have started presenting arguments to the jury. These are some arguments:
- Criminal court decisions other than a not guilty verdict
- Which evidence can be presented at trial
- The decision to vacate a judgment
- A decision granting a defendant a new trial
- A sentence that Michigan law or federal law does not allow or that is less than the mandatory minimum
- A sentence that does not include a required provision or that has prohibited provisions
A criminal case is a series of fights for small victories. If the prosecution files an appeal in your case, your lawyer can help you keep those small victories by fighting the appeal.
Our Michigan Office75 North Main Street, Suite 2500, Mount Clemens, MI 48043
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Regardless of whether you are seeking to appeal a verdict or order, or prosecutors are appealing, we focus on appeals and can consult with you about your matter. Appeals are time-sensitive, so please feel free to contact us to discuss your Washington state criminal appeal.