Appealing a Conviction or Sentence in Michigan – Answers to Common Questions

When convicted of a criminal offense such as armed robbery, murder, breaking and entering, or even drug manufacturing or distribution, you may feel you have been wrongly convicted, or that the sentence you received was excessive. Errors are made in Michigan courts, and you may have grounds for appeal. There are some common questions often asked by those considering appealing a verdict or sentence to the Michigan Court of Appeals, including the following.

Should or can I appeal? The simple answer to can you appeal is yes; however the answer to whether you should appeal is a bit more complicated. Did the trial court err, and is an appeal warranted (in other words, do you have strong grounds for appeal)? This is something a criminal appeals attorney can help you decide.

Can I appeal my conviction/sentence without an attorney? While you have the legal right to represent yourself in an appeal, be aware the process is highly complex and risky. You have a much better chance of winning on appeal if you have an experienced lawyer to represent you.

Can I use the attorney who represented me at trial for the appeal? It all depends. Some criminal defense attorneys are skilled and experienced in the criminal appeals process, while others are not. Your criminal defense lawyer may be one of the best in Michigan, however the appeals procedure is an entirely different animal from the criminal justice process. When you are the defendant in a trial, your attorney’s command of the courtroom and ability to connect with jurors may impact whether your case is won. In the appeals process, it’s an entirely different battle which is fought for the most part on paper. Ultimately, you must have a lawyer who is skilled and effective in crafting a compelling and persuasive brief that clearly communicates the situation to the appellate judges.

Is the appeals process lengthy? It certainly can be. Generally speaking, it takes approximately 18 to 24 months from the initial filing for an appeal to be completed. However, there are many factors that determine how long the process will take.

When considering an appeal of your conviction or sentence, there are other factors to consider as well, including deadlines for filing and costs. Ultimately, it is critical to consult with a highly qualified Michigan criminal appeals attorney immediately following your conviction or sentencing to ensure timely filing if you do decide to appeal.

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