Imagine you’re sitting in a prison cell, knowing you’ll still be there in 10, 15 or even years 20 years. Imagine you’ve been convicted of a terrible crime, perhaps Assault with a Deadly Weapon, selling drugs or Second Degree Murder. Now imagine that you’re completely innocent, serving a prison sentence for something you never did. Sounds horrible right? It is! And for hundreds of people, they don’t have to imagine it. It’s their reality!
So what can you do? What recourse is available to someone who’s been wrongly convicted of a crime in Michigan? Thankfully, sentencing and incarceration isn’t the end of the line – there are still avenues available to those who’ve been wrongfully convicted. Which is exactly what we’d like to discuss today: the options available to an innocent person behind bars, serving time for someone else’s crime.
What can you do if you’ve been wrongly convicted?
Answer: you file an appeal. However, while that may sound like a simply process, it’s actually a complex and time consuming one. In fact, before an appeal even starts, a criminal defense attorney might try to get relief from the conviction right in the very court where the defendant was actually convicted. One example of that is to file a request for post judgment relief sometimes called a 6.500 motion here in Michigan.
If that fails, the appellate attorney can proceed with the defendant filing a notice of appeal. Sometimes there is an automatic right to an appeal. In other instances, there is no right to an automatic appeal and the defendant seeks permission from the Michigan Court of Appeals to file their appeal.
But even before that happens you need to know something very important – there’s a short time limit! That’s right – your opportunity to file an appeal isn’t limitless. There is a very specific window of time in which you’re allowed to file an appeal, or to ask for permission to appeal. Therefore, the sooner you get on that, the better! Many defendants hire their appellate attorney between the time of their conviction or plea and the time they are sentenced.
What happens after you file a notice of appeal?
Once a defendant has filed a notice of appeal, a transcript of their court appearances is ordered and prepared. The time clock is ticking and your appellate attorney should understand the strict timetable in which a pleadings and briefs must be submitted to the Michigan Court of Appeals.
A legal brief in this case is a written argument that explains to the court why the defendant has been wrongly convicted (from the defense) and why the conviction was proper (from the prosecution.) The attorneys may also choose to ask for oral arguments, which is where the prosecution and defense argue their cases in support of their legal briefs.
What happens after the legal briefs are submitted?
After the legal briefs have been submitted to the Appellate Court, the prosecution and defense attorneys might have the chance to argue their side of the appeal. Sometimes, for one reason or the other, the attorneys don’t ask for oral argument in front of the judges. In other cases, the judges decide that there will be no oral argument because they will decide the case based only on the information that was provided to them.
The three appellate judges make a determination based solely on the trial record and the legal briefs. Once the Appellate Court has everything they need to make a decision, the process could take only weeks, however that isn’t usual. More commonly, the process takes several months before a decision is reached.
Have you been wrongly convicted of a crime in Michigan?
Have you or a loved one been wrongly convicted of a crime in Michigan? If so, you’re going to need to help from a skilled criminal defense attorney with experience in handling appeals to set the record straight. However, as we’ve pointed out many times before, the best way to avoid being convicted for a crime you didn’t commit is to have an experienced criminal defense attorney on board right from the start!
So if you have been charged with a crime here in Michigan, and you were wrongfully convicted, call The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 766 5245. Our experienced criminal defense attorneys have spent decades helping wrongfully convicted people in Michigan fight false allegations and trumped up charges. Having a great attorney protecting you and fighting for your rights from the earliest possible moment is the best way to avoid wrongful conviction!