Winning Your Appeal

Attorney Aaron Spolin

Award-winning Michigan criminal appeals attorney Aaron Spolin has proven steps that win cases. He is ready to put his team at Spolin Law P.C. to work for you.

Our Michigan criminal appeal lawyers are knowledgeable about the law and have extensive experience handling the most difficult cases. We search for the truth, find mistakes made in court, and protect clients from harsh penalties that they don’t deserve.

Spolin Law P.C. fights for its clients with the following steps, where appropriate:

  • Identify Mistakes and Errors from the Pretrial Hearing and Trial: Our dedicated team of legal professionals will thoroughly review every record and transcript in a client’s case. Our goal is to find (1) mistakes made by trial counsel, (2) improper statements from the prosecutor, and (3) errors made by the judge. When those rights violate our clients’ rights, they make strong arguments on appeal.
  • Argue Michigan Law and U.S. Constitutional Law: Attorney Aaron Spolin has a vast knowledge of the law and applies that information to our cases to make arguments that can overturn convictions. There are literally thousands of available arguments based on Michigan laws, court cases, and U.S. Constitutional laws. See the section “Arguments That Can Overturn Convictions” below to learn more about the arguments that Spolin Law P.C. may be able to use in your appeal.
  • Prove Full or Partial Innocence of a Client: The judge is a human being with compassion, who is often persuaded by emotional as well as technical arguments. When we fight a case, we not only describe how our client is entitled to win according to the law, but also provide facts showing how the client is actually innocent. This presentation of our client as a good human being can persuade the court to overturn a wrongful conviction.
  • Seek Release on Bail During the Appeal: You may be eligible to be released from incarceration during the appeals process. This allows you to spend more time with your loved ones. This will also allow you to meet with the Spolin Law P.C. team as often as necessary to formulate your arguments.

Spolin Law P.C. has successfully used these steps to achieve positive outcomes for our clients. Award-winning criminal appeals attorney Aaron Spolin is available to take appeals anywhere in the state of Michigan. To learn more about how we can fight and potentially win your case, call us for a consultation at (866) 606-7992.

  1. Winning Your Appeal
  2. Appeal Deadlines
  3. Arguments That Can Overturn Convictions
  4. The Michigan Criminal Appeal Process
  5. The Importance of a Michigan Criminal Appeals Lawyer

Deadline For Filing a Claim of Appeal After a Criminal Appeal in Michigan

There are various deadlines that must be met when filing an appeal in a Michigan criminal case.

If you are making an appeal as a right (discussed more below), then you have 42 days from the date of sentencing to file a Claim of Appeal.

If there is no “right” to appeal, then you must file an Application for Leave to Appeal within six months from the date of sentencing to file an appeal.

Deadline to File a Michigan Writ of Habeas Corpus

Another common post-conviction relief that Spolin Law P.C. handles is the Writ of Habeas Corpus. A Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus is a request to a higher court for an order to a lower court to have an inmate released for various reasons. There is no set deadline for a Petition for a Writ of Habeas Corpus, but it should be filed as soon as possible.

Getting Released on Bail During the Appeals Process

You may be able to get released on bail during the appeals process. This can take place by seeking lowered bail or elimination of bail for the release of a client who is appealing their conviction. This step is important because an appeal can take one or two years to complete.

To find out if a bail motion is appropriate in your case, contact a criminal appeals attorney at Spolin Law P.C. at (866) 606-7992.

  1. Winning Your Appeal
  2. Appeal Deadlines
  3. Arguments That Can Overturn Convictions
  4. The Michigan Criminal Appeal Process
  5. The Importance of a Michigan Criminal Appeals Lawyer

Arguments That Can Overturn Convictions

The Detroit criminal appeals attorneys at Spolin Law P.C. have used thousands of arguments to achieve successful appeals. Any one argument can result in the overturning of a conviction, but the best attorneys present multiple arguments in a single case. It is likely that more than one argument will apply to your situation.

The following list includes some of the most common arguments that we would expect to use in criminal appeals.

Ineffective Assistance of Counsel

Ineffective assistance of counsel refers to a situation where the defendant did not have a good trial counsel. An ineffective assistance of counsel argument will be accepted where the trial counsel was so below the professional standards for counsel that what he or she did was “unreasonable,” and resulted in an unfavorable outcome. For example, a trial counsel’s failure to object to improper testimony could lead to an ineffective assistance of counsel claim.

Improper Admission of Character Evidence

Michigan’s rules of evidence generally prohibit evidence about a defendant’s character used to prove that he or she committed a crime. Typically, this means that the prosecution cannot ask witnesses for their opinions about the defendant’s character (for example, is the defendant trustworthy?) or introduce evidence of prior bad acts (for instance, bank records of a hot check).

Improper “Burden Shifting” of the Prosecutor

In a criminal trial, the prosecution has the burden of proving the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. But sometimes, the prosecution will try to “shift” the burden of proof, suggesting to the jury that the defendant must instead prove his or her innocence. For example, in a homicide trial, the prosecution may argue that the defendant must prove he or she acted in self-defense, even though Michigan law requires that the prosecution disprove self-defense.

Legally Faulty Jury Instructions

At the end of a jury trial, the judge will give the jury instructions about the law and the jury’s role in resolving the case they just observed. Although typically modeled after standardized Criminal Jury Instructions, ultimately what instructions a judge gives is up to that judge and the legal counselors in the case. If a conviction is based on faulty instructions provided over the defendant’s objection, then the conviction can be reversed on appeal.

Improper Exclusion of a Witness

Defendants are legally entitled to present evidence, including witness testimony, to the jury in an attempt to prove their innocence or otherwise call into question the charges against them. If a judge improperly excludes a witness who would have testified on the defendant’s behalf, the defendant can appeal that exclusion after trial.

Improper Limitation of Cross Examination

The U.S. Supreme Court has referred to cross-examination as the greatest legal engine for the discovery of truth. In a criminal trial, the defendant’s right to cross-examine the prosecution’s witnesses is guaranteed by the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. An appellate court will overturn a conviction if the trial court restricted the defendant’s cross-examination of a witness for no good reason.

Improper Admission of Defendant’s Statement or Confession

Courts are limited in how they can admit out-of-court statements and confessions by a criminal defendant. These limitations stem from a defendant’s right against self-incrimination (described below), right to cross-examine witnesses against him or her, and rules of evidence regarding hearsay. A convicted defendant can challenge his or her conviction if the court allows evidence of a statement or admission that violates those limits.

Denial of Attorney of Choice

The Sixth Amendment protects a criminal defendant’s right to counsel. If the defendant can’t afford to hire counsel, the court hearing his or her case must appoint one. If the defendant can afford to hire counsel, then the court usually must respect his or her choice of counsel. In that event, a defendant can appeal if the trial court refused to let him or her be represented by the counsel of his or her choice.

Improper Denial of Suppression Motion

When the police or prosecution obtain evidence in a way that violates a defendant’s Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable searches and seizures, the defendant can ask the judge to exclude (or “suppress”) that evidence. For instance, if police find evidence of a crime while searching a suspect’s home without a warrant, that evidence should generally be excluded from the trial. If the court fails to do so, that decision can be overturned on appeal.

Insufficient Probable Cause

Before police can obtain a search or arrest warrant in Michigan, they must demonstrate to a judge that they have probable cause to believe that they will find evidence of a crime or that the person to be arrested committed a crime. Probable cause is a low bar, and police can usually satisfy it with ease. However, if there was no probable cause from the outset, then the entire process may be tainted, and an appellate court may reverse any resulting conviction.

Improper Admission of Faulty Line-Up Procedure

In a line-up, police place several individuals in a line and ask a witness to a crime if he or she recognizes any of the individuals as the person who committed the crime. An identification made during a line-up may be especially persuasive to a jury. However, line-ups are often suggestive and can lead to false identifications. In that event, a court’s decision to admit evidence from the line-up can be challenged on appeal.

Violation of Defendant’s Fifth Amendment Right Against Self-Incrimination

The U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment prohibits the government from compelling a criminal defendant to be a witness against him — or herself. This protects a defendant from being called as a witness in his or her own case, but it also requires that certain procedures be followed by the police or prosecution in questioning a suspect. Failure to follow those procedures can undercut a conviction’s validity.

Double Jeopardy

The Fifth Amendment also protects defendants against being “twice put in jeopardy of life or limb” for the same crime. That means that the prosecution can’t try to convict a defendant for a crime after a jury acquits him or her and can’t try to increase a defendant’s sentence by trying him or her again for the same crime following conviction.

Violation of Speedy Trial Right

The Michigan Constitution and U.S. Constitution both guarantee a criminal defendant the right to a speedy trial. This right ensures that a person charged with a crime receives a trial within a reasonable amount of time after being arrested or charged. Otherwise, the case against the defendant should be dismissed, and failure by the trial court to dismiss can be appealed if the defendant is convicted.

Denial of Jury Trial

Criminal cases can be decided either by a judge or a jury. But the Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution generally requires that a criminal defendant be given a jury trial if he or she wants one. If a judge conducts a bench trial (trial without a jury) or decides critical questions of fact for itself in a jury trial, rather than submitting them to the jury, then the defendant’s right to trial by jury has been violated.

Insufficient Evidence for a Conviction

As noted earlier, the prosecution must prove the state’s case against a criminal defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. Despite a guilty verdict from the jury, an appellate court will overturn a conviction if the evidence presented at trial was actually insufficient to support that verdict.

Defendant was Not Mentally Competent for Trial

A person cannot be tried for a crime while he or she is mentally incompetent. A court will accept this argument if, at the time of trial, as a result of mental disorder or developmental disability, the defendant was unable to understand the nature of the criminal proceedings or to assist his or her counsel in conducting the defense in a rational manner.

Unconstitutionally Broad Statute Defining Offense

Crimes are defined by statutes. The constitutional guarantee of due process requires that those statutes be clear enough to give people notice of what conduct crosses the line from legal to criminal behavior. If a criminal statute is too broad (i.e., too vague), then a conviction for violating it will be overturned.

Statute Resulting in Conviction Abridged First-Amendment Rights

Statutes can be unconstitutional in other, more obvious ways, such as when they violate the First Amendment. If a criminal law abridges the freedom of speech or of the press, then any defendant prosecuted under the law can challenge it on that basis in the trial court or on appeal.

Judge Improperly Closed Courtroom During Trial

Defendants in a criminal case have a constitutional right to a public trial. That means that the trial must be open to the general public at all times, including during pretrial hearings, unless a court can show that excluding the public was necessary to protect some higher value, such as the right to a fair trial.

Improper Interference with Jury Deliberations

At the end of a trial, the jury will engage in deliberations—private discussions among the jurors to determine what the verdict will be. Michigan law prohibits the judge and the legal counselors in the case from communicating with the jury during deliberations, except that the judge may communicate with the jury in open court following notice to the legal counselors. Failure to follow that rule will lead to a reversal on appeal.

Actual Innocence

A convicted defendant can sometimes challenge his or her conviction because he or she is actually innocent. This challenge may be raised in different ways: First, the defendant can argue on appeal that the evidence of guilt at trial was inadequate or evidence of innocence was conclusive. Additionally, the defendant may be able to petition for a writ of habeas corpus (discussed below) if new evidence of innocence is found after the time for appeal has expired.

Sentencing Error by Judge

The punishments that a judge can impose on a person convicted of a crime are determined by law. Unfortunately, judges sometimes impose sentences that are overly harsh compared to what the law allows. If successfully appealed on this basis, the reviewing court will only overturn the sentence, not the conviction.

Charges Were Filed After Statute of Limitations

Statutes of limitations define how long after an alleged crime occurred a prosecutor can file charges. Different crimes are subject to different limitations periods, ranging from as little as two years to as many as 10. Some crimes do not have a statute of limitations. But for those that do, the trial court should dismiss the charges if they are filed late. Failure to do so gives the defendant grounds for appeal.

Court Lacked Subject Matter Jurisdiction

A court’s subject matter jurisdiction is that court’s power to decide cases of a particular type. If a defendant is convicted in a court that lacks subject matter jurisdiction over his or her case, then the defendant can appeal that court’s decision on that basis.

Improper Denial of Change of Venue Motion

The venue of a criminal prosecution refers to the geographical location of the court hearing the case. In general, a defendant is entitled to have his or her case heard in the county or district in which the crime was allegedly committed. If the case is filed in the wrong place, or if the venue is inappropriate for some other reason, the defendant can move for a change of venue. An improper denial of that motion can be appealed.

Speedy Trial Right Violation of U.S. Constitution, Amendment VI

The Michigan Constitution includes a similar “speedy trial” provision to the U.S. Constitution. As with the federal right, a violation of the right to speedy trial should result in a dismissal of the pending charges by the trial court. Otherwise, an appellate court should reverse any resulting conviction.

Defendant Improperly Restrained in Front of Jury

In most cases, a criminal defendant should not be restrained (with handcuffs, shackles, or similar devices) in front of a jury, because seeing the restraints may prejudice the jurors against the defendant. Unless a trial judge orders that a defendant be restrained in the jury’s presence based on manifest necessity, such restraints are an abuse of the judge’s discretion and can invalidate a conviction.

Jury Improperly Allowed to See Shackles, Handcuffs, or Jail Clothes of Defendant

Criminal defendants in custody are generally transported to and from the courthouse in handcuffs or shackles and may arrive in their jail-issued clothing. But because the sight of such restraints or jailhouse clothes may prejudice a jury against the defendant, jurors should generally not be allowed to see them. For example, the defendant should be permitted to change into civilian clothing before entering the courtroom. If the jury does see a defendant’s restraints or jail clothes, he or she may be able to challenge any resulting conviction on those grounds.

Defendant was Excluded from Courtroom for Portions of the Trial

A criminal defendant is entitled to be present in the courtroom during his or her trial. Although trial judges are allowed to exclude the defendant from the courtroom in some circumstances (such as for persisting in disorderly conduct after being warned by the judge), if the exclusion was improper, then the defendant can appeal on that basis.

Judge Communicated to Jury Without Defense Counsel Present

To ensure that a judge does not improperly influence the jury, the judge may not communicate with jurors unless both the prosecution and defense counsel are present. If the judge does communicate with the jury outside the presence of the defendant’s counsel, then the defendant can challenge his or her conviction as invalid because of that communication.

Improper Admission of Confession Following Failure to Give Miranda Warnings

Before a prosecutor can use a defendant’s confession while in police custody as evidence at trial, he or she must prove that the defendant was given Miranda warnings (e.g., “You have the right to remain silent”) before making the confession. These warnings are required by the U.S. Supreme Court to protect criminal defendants’ right against self-incrimination. The defendant can appeal if his or her confession was admitted as evidence despite the lack of such warnings.

A warrant is a legal document signed by a judge authorizing police to search a particular place, seize specified property, or arrest a particular person. To be valid, the warrant must be supported by probable cause and satisfy certain formal requirements. An invalid warrant may invalidate the entire case against a defendant. If the trial court incorrectly refuses to dismiss a case based on an invalid warrant, the defendant can ask an appellate court to review that decision.

Identification procedures are techniques that police use to help witnesses of a crime identify the person they believe committed it. However, when such techniques are unduly suggestive, they can violate a criminal defendant’s right to due process. In addition, the defendant must be allowed to have counsel present during any in-person identification procedures after a case has commenced, such as a line-up. If these rights were violated and the defendant was convicted, he or she can appeal the conviction on that basis.

Denial of Counsel’s Presence at a Critical Stage of Court Proceedings

The Sixth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees a criminal defendant’s right to have the assistance of counsel for his or her defense. The U.S. Supreme Court has explained that this right extends to any critical stages in a criminal prosecution, including certain pretrial proceedings, trial, and some post-trial proceedings. If a defendant was convicted after being denied the right to assistance of counsel at any such stage, then he or she can appeal.

Trial Attorney Had Conflict of Interest

Criminal defense legal counselors owe their clients a duty of loyalty, whether they have been appointed by the court or hired by the defendant directly. If the counsel has a conflict of interest, then he or she should withdraw from the representation. A conflict of interest may exist when legal counsel represents two criminal defendants who may be able to bargain for reduced charges by testifying against the other and in certain other circumstances. A counselor with a conflict of interest cannot provide effective assistance to his or her client, a problem that can result in a conviction being overturned.

Defendant Denied Right of Self Representation

Although representing yourself in court is almost never a good idea, the law gives criminal defendants the right to do so. However, a court does not have to permit a defendant to represent him- or herself if the defendant is not competent. But if the defendant was competent to do so and the court refused to let him or her, that refusal can be grounds for appeal.

Defendant was Unduly Prejudiced by Pretrial or Trial Publicity

Defendants have a right to be tried before an impartial jury. But media coverage of an alleged crime or criminal trial can taint the jury pool and result in a jury that is prejudiced against the defendant. Although the typical remedy for such issues is a change of venue, if a defendant is convicted by a jury that was actually or “reasonably likely” prejudiced against him or her because of pretrial or trial publicity, the defendant can challenge that conviction before an appellate court.

Prosecutor Challenged a Juror Due to Juror’s Race/Gender/etc.

Before a criminal trial, the judge, prosecutor, and defense counsel will work together to select a jury for their case. The judge or attorneys will question a panel of prospective jurors to determine whether they would be suitable to serve on the jury. Both legal counselors are permitted to exercise a limited number of “peremptory” challenges, dismissing jurors without having to give a reason. However, if the prosecution dismisses jurors based on race, ethnicity, gender, or similar characteristics, the defendant can not only challenge that dismissal at that time, but also appeal on that basis if the resulting jury convicts the defendant of the alleged crime.

Judge’s Ruling on Expert Testimony was Incorrect

Prosecutors and criminal defendants often rely on expert testimony to help explain complex facts to the jury and prove their own case or rebut the other party’s. Experts are often uniquely persuasive to jurors, making their testimony critical to proving or disproving guilt. However, to be admissible, expert testimony must satisfy certain prerequisites. If a court admits the prosecution’s expert testimony that fails to satisfy those prerequisites, or rejects the defendant’s expert testimony that does satisfy them, then that decision can be reviewed by an appellate court.

Judge Failed to Give a Required Jury Instruction

At the conclusion of a criminal trial, the judge will provide instructions to the jury, explaining the jurors’ role in the case and the rules they should follow when deciding it. Some instructions are always required, and others may be necessary based on the evidence in the case or because of certain events during the trial. If the judge is required to give a particular instruction, but fails to do so, then the defendant can appeal that failure if he or she is convicted.

Jury Verdict Form was Improper or Improperly Filled Out

Along with the jury instructions, at the end of the trial, the judge in a criminal case will give the jury a verdict form, which the jurors will use to render their verdict by finding the defendant guilty or not guilty. However, to support a conviction, the verdict form must satisfy certain requirements. If it fails to, or if the jury made mistakes in filling it out (such as by making conflicting findings), the defendant can appeal his or her conviction.

Prosecutor Committed “Golden Rule” Violation in Argument

A “Golden Rule” argument asks jurors to place themselves in an alleged victim’s shoes or otherwise appeal for sympathy for the victim when determining whether a defendant is guilty. Because such arguments are highly prejudicial and ask the jury to resolve a case based on something other than objective facts as proved by evidence, they are not allowed in a criminal trial. A defendant can seek to overturn a conviction if the prosecutor made a “Golden Rule” argument.

Prosecutor Failed to Disclose Exculpatory Evidence

According to the U.S. Supreme Court, the Due Process Clauses of the U.S. Constitution require prosecutors to disclose to a criminal defendant any potentially exculpatory evidence — that is, evidence that tends to prove the defendant is not guilty. Failure to do so taints the entire prosecution and requires that a resulting conviction be reversed.

Prosecutor Failed to Disclose Relevant Information About a Witness

Among the types of exculpatory evidence that prosecutors must turn over to criminal defendants is evidence relating to the credibility of the prosecution’s witnesses. For example, if the prosecutor offered leniency to a witness in exchange for his or her testimony against the defendant, the prosecutor must disclose that offer to the defendant before trial. As with other types of exculpatory evidence, failure to do so may invalidate the defendant’s conviction.

To find out which of these arguments, or others, may apply to your case, contact a Michigan criminal appeals lawyer at Spolin Law P.C. Our Detroit law firm’s office line is (866) 606-7992.

  1. Winning Your Appeal
  2. Appeal Deadlines
  3. Arguments That Can Overturn Convictions
  4. The Michigan Criminal Appeal Process
  5. The Importance of a Michigan Criminal Appeals Lawyer

The Michigan Criminal Appeal Process

Michigan criminal appeals lawyers Don Nguyen, Aaron Spolin, and Jeremy Cutcher, attorney of counsel Matthew Delgado, and legal researcher Dan DeMaria discussing steps they will take to win their client’s case | Spolin Law P.C.

The criminal appeals lawyers in Michigan at Spolin Law P.C. discuss steps they will take to win their client’s case.

Spolin Law P.C. handles criminal appeals throughout Michigan from our office conveniently located in Detroit. This section will provide you with some basic information about the Michigan criminal court system and how the appeals process works.

The Michigan Criminal Court System

The court system in Michigan is an arrangement of district courts, circuit courts, the Court of Appeals, and the highest court in the state, the Michigan Supreme Court. An experienced criminal law attorney can best explain this system and how to navigate it.

Trial Courts

Criminal trials are held in one of two kinds of courts in Michigan: district courts and circuit courts. The district courts are where people have their initial and sometimes final interaction with the criminal court system. The district courts handle the arraignment, setting of bail, and preliminary examinations in felony cases. They are also trial courts for all misdemeanor cases; that is, cases in which the maximum penalty for the crime would be less than a year.

Michigan has 105 district courts, although four municipalities have chosen to have a municipal court rather than a district court. These municipal courts have jurisdiction over misdemeanors and violations of city ordinances committed within the city limits and are located in Grosse Pointe, Grosse Pointe Farms, Grosse Pointe Park, and Grosse Point Shores/Grosse Pointe Woods.

The 57 circuit courts in Michigan have exclusive jurisdiction to try felony cases.

Appeals Courts

Michigan has intermediate appellate courts, which are courts that hear appeals from lower courts but are themselves below the Michigan Supreme Court. The circuit courts, in which felonies are tried, hear appeals from decisions of the district courts and the municipal courts.

Michigan has only one Court of Appeals, which hears appeals from circuit court decisions. The Court of Appeals has four offices throughout Michigan: District I, based in Detroit; District II, based in Troy; District III, based in Grand Rapids; and District IV, based in Lansing. Each district except Troy has a courtroom and hears cases year-round. The Court of Appeals also hears cases in Marquette and in a northern Lower Peninsula location in the spring and fall of each year.

The information below about the criminal appeals process focuses on appeals in the Court of Appeals rather than the circuit courts.

Michigan Supreme Court

Michigan’s highest court is its Supreme Court. The Michigan Supreme Court has only the jurisdiction to hear appeals from decisions of the Court of Appeals.

The Criminal Appeals Process in Michigan

An appeal in Michigan is a request for judicial review of a circuit court judgment. A three-judge panel in the Court of Appeals has the authority to correct errors made in a trial in a circuit court.

To have the Court of Appeals review a decision or judgment of a circuit court, a defendant must abide by certain rules. An experienced criminal appeals attorney will be able to navigate these rules to ensure a successful review of the decision.

In Michigan, a defendant has one of two types of appeals:

Appeal of Right

In an appeal of right, the defendant is entitled to appeal a decision or judgment of a circuit court, and the Court of Appeals must hear the appeal as long as the defendant files in time and follows all the rules for appealing.

A timely appeal from a judgment of conviction in a criminal case is an appeal of right, and the appeal is called a “Claim of Appeal.” The exception to this rule occurs when the judgment of the trial court was entered following a plea of guilty or nolo contendere. A defendant who pleads to a charge does not have an appeal of right.

Leave to Appeal

If a defendant does not have an appeal of right, he or she may file an “Application for Leave to Appeal.” This is an application requesting the Court of Appeals to hear an appeal even though it is not obligated to do so. If the defendant failed to file an appeal in time or entered a plea of guilty or nolo contendere, that defendant would have the right to file an Application for Leave to Appeal.

An Application for Leave to Appeal cannot be filed if the defendant has previously filed an appeal of right or if an earlier Application was granted or denied.

Steps in the Appeals Process

Step 1: Filing the Claim of Appeal or Application for Leave to Appeal

Appeal of Right

If a defendant has an appeal of right, he or she must file a Claim of Appeal as well as other documents with the Court of Appeals within the time set by statute. This time limit is 42 days from the sentencing date. Several other documents must be filed along with the Claim of Appeal. Failure to file any specific documents correctly will result in a denial or delay of the appeal.

Leave to Appeal

For an Application for Leave to Appeal, the defendant must provide the Court with enough information for it to decide whether to grant the application. An Application must be filed within six months after sentencing. The list of documents required for an Application for Leave to Appeal is as extensive as that for a Claim of Appeal; perhaps more so.

The filing of these documents should not be taken lightly and should always be conducted with the help of a licensed criminal appeals lawyer. Attorney Aaron Spolin and his team of legal professionals at Spolin Law P.C. understand how to complete these documents professionally and meet all necessary deadlines. Call today at (866) 606-7992 for a consultation of your case.

Step 2: Preparation of the Record

Whether filing a Claim of Appeal or an Application for Leave to Appeal, the defendant must order and pay for a transcript of the proceedings in the trial court, which includes all evidence and testimony presented at trial. The difference is that for a Claim of Appeal, the defendant must merely order the transcript within the time allowed for appeal, while for an Application for Leave to Appeal, the defendant must file the transcript with the Application.

The defendant and his or her attorney will carefully review the record to determine whether the evidence presented at trial was properly admitted and supported a conviction, if the court’s decisions were legally sound, and if any procedural defect occurred.

Step 3: Decision on Application for Leave to Appeal

The next step for an Application for Leave to Appeal is the decision of the Court of Appeals on the application. A defendant is not entitled to oral argument on the Application; the Court decides it based solely on the documents filed. If the court denies the Application, the defendant’s appeal rights in the Court of Appeals are concluded. If the court grants the Application, the defendant must then start over and file all the materials required for a Claim of Appeal.

Step 4: Submission of Briefs

Whether the defendant had an appeal of right or was granted leave to appeal, the next stage is the filing of the defendant’s brief. A brief is a written argument explaining how the trial court made mistakes, how the mistakes affected the outcome of the trial, and the relief the defendant requests from the Court of Appeals (e.g., remand for a new trial or dismissal of the charges).

The defendant’s appellate brief must be filed within 56 days after the Claim of Appeal is filed, after an order granting leave to appeal is filed, or after the transcript is filed with the trial court, whichever is later. There are specific page limits and requirements regarding what is included in the brief.

After the defendant files his or her brief, the prosecutor has the right to file a brief in response. The defendant would then be permitted to file a reply to that response, but he or she may address only issues raised in the response without supplementing the original brief.

Step 5: Oral Argument

A defendant does not have to argue his or her case before the Court of Appeals; the defendant may stipulate with the prosecutor that the case will be submitted on the briefs. However, taking advantage of the opportunity to argue before the Court of Appeals may increase the chance of success.

A defendant may request oral argument on the title page of the brief, and may, in his or her brief, explain why oral argument is necessary. But a defendant does not have a right to oral argument. The case may be referred to a panel of judges that reviews and disposes of the case without oral argument. This can occur when the panel unanimously decides that (1) the appeal is without merit, (2) the issues raised on appeal have been recently authoritatively decided, or (3) the Court’s deliberation would not be significantly aided by oral argument because the briefs and record adequately present the all the facts and legal arguments it needs to decide the case.

If the panel of the Court of Appeals allows oral argument, each side gets only 30 minutes to argue its case, regardless of the number or complexity of the issues raised. The Court may allow more time upon request or in its discretion at oral argument.

Step 6: Oral Argument

Following oral argument or submission of the case on the record and the briefs, the Court of Appeals will issue its decision on the merits. There is no set time in which the Court must issue the decision.

The Court may deny the Claim of Appeal entirely, or it may reverse the judgment of the trial court due to one or more errors. Generally, a defendant whose case is overturned on appeal is sent back to the trial court for retrial or resentencing. In unusual cases, the Court may discharge the defendant on its own authority.

If a defendant loses the appeal, he or she may file a motion for reconsideration within 21 days of the date of the order of the Court of Appeals.

An attorney with in-depth knowledge about criminal appeals will be able to tell whether a motion for reconsideration is warranted or whether the defendant should move on to filing an Application for Leave to Appeal to the Michigan Supreme Court. Spolin Law P.C. is here to evaluate your case for you. Call us at (866) 606-7992 no matter what stage of the criminal appeals process you are at.

The Writ of Habeas Corpus Process

A “writ” is similar to an appeal except it typically argues issues that cannot be brought in a normal appeal. An appeal generally cannot reference information that is outside of a court record of the trial or pretrial hearing. Therefore, if mistakes were made in court, an appeal is appropriate. However, if there were inappropriate steps outside of the court that did not make it into the court record, then a writ of habeas corpus may be appropriate.

A writ of habeas corpus is used to challenge incarceration of an inmate. It is frequently used to raise issues that cannot be brought in a direct appeal. Writs of habeas corpus allege violations of the defendant’s constitutional or statutory rights.

To learn more about writs and whether they may help in your case, see our Writ of Habeas Corpus page and call Spolin Law P.C. at (866) 606-7992 for an in-depth consultation.

  1. Winning Your Appeal
  2. Appeal Deadlines
  3. Arguments That Can Overturn Convictions
  4. The Michigan Criminal Appeal Process
  5. The Importance of a Michigan Criminal Appeals Lawyer

The Importance of a Michigan Criminal Appeals Lawyer

Spolin Law P.C. Logo

With a team of dedicated criminal appeals professionals, Spolin Law P.C. is ready to fight for you. Call today for a case review.

It’s important that you choose the best Michigan criminal appeals lawyer available to you. Selecting the right attorney will have a huge impact on your likelihood of success. Spolin Law P.C. is led by award-winning attorney Aaron Spolin. He is a former prosecutor who has defended countless clients against wrongful accusations. He knows how both sides of the legal process work.

An exceptional appeals attorney can make a difference by:

  • Discovering New Arguments: The best attorneys in Michigan can find multiple arguments to support your case. At Spolin Law P.C. we frequently discover and raise arguments that other attorneys may have missed.
  • Finding Errors in the Record: A criminal appeal requires a thorough review of the complete record in order to find all possible arguments for relief. We investigate the pre-trial record as well as trial transcripts to find every legal basis to challenge a conviction.
  • Fighting to Win: Spolin Law P.C. has proven success in countless cases with strategies targeted to win. The law firm is led by award-winning appeals attorney Aaron Spolin, who has a forceful desire to win every case.

To learn what appeals options may be available in your case, contact the Michigan criminal appeals attorneys at Spolin Law P.C. for a consultation. We are available at (866) 606-7992.