Michigan Criminal Appeal Attorney

Were you convicted of a crime in Michigan? Perhaps your lawyer didn’t investigate your case, call certain witnesses to testify on your behalf, file the right motions, or object to things they should have. Did the prosecutor withhold evidence that would have helped your case reach a different outcome? Did the judge apply the law correctly? Perhaps you don’t know if your case has appealable issues, but you need a skilled Michigan criminal appeal attorney to review it and find out. Maybe you have exhausted your direct appeals. You feel defeated and don’t know what options, if any, you still have.

There are many situations, like these, where you need an experienced criminal appeal lawyer. Though criminal appeals are often technical and difficult to win, successful appeals largely have much in common. So, if you were convicted of a crime in Michigan, don’t give up hope. Read more about the appeal process below and our criminal appeal and post-conviction services.

Michigan Appeal Table of Contents

Michigan Criminal Appeal & Post-Conviction Services

The Law Offices of Brian R. Watkins offers comprehensive criminal appeal and post-conviction representation to those criminally convicted in Michigan courts. Regardless of your situation, we are here to help. Contact us to find out how our expertise and experience can help rewrite the ending for your conviction, sentence, or criminal record.

Direct Appeal

Direct appeal generally refers to the regular process of appealing a conviction. When a defendant is convicted of a crime they file an appeal in a higher court to review the conviction and the lower court’s decisions.

In Michigan, a convicted defendant can also file a direct appeal of their sentence regardless of whether or not they appeal their conviction.

There are two ways a defendant can be convicted of a crime in Michigan. Understanding the distinction between them is important to understanding direct appeals. A defendant can either be convicted of a crime at trial after a judge or jury finds them guilty, or they can be convicted of a crime by pleading guilty.

Direct appeals from a conviction at trial are appeals of right, meaning the defendant has a right to have their case reviewed by a higher court.

Direct appeals from plea-based convictions are discretionary. This means that defendants who plead guilty and want to appeal their conviction or sentence must file in the higher court an application for leave to appeal–a request that the higher court consider the appeal even though it has no obligation to do so. The appellate court will either “grant leave” and allow the defendant to present their case, or “deny leave” and reject the request.

If you were convicted of a crime in Michigan, it is important to understand that the Michigan direct appeals process has strict time requirements for filing. Therefore, you need to talk with a Michigan criminal appeal attorney as soon as possible so you do not lose an opportunity to potentially have your conviction reviewed.

Michigan 6.500 Motions

For those convicted of a criminal offense in Michigan one opportunity for post conviction relief is a motion for relief from judgement. They are often called 6.500 motions due to where they are found in the Michigan Court Rules.

These motions are for defendants who either were unsuccessful in their direct appeals or who missed the filing deadline for their direct appeal. Unlike direct appeals, however, 6.500 motions are filed in the trial court where the defendant was convicted and sentenced. It is often a defendant’s last chance to raise and exhaust issues related to their conviction and sentence in Michigan’s state court system.

Another significant way 6.500 motions are different from direct appeals is that they have no hard deadline by which they must be filed. In practice, these motions can be filed anytime after a defendant is convicted of a crime in Michigan. In fact, a number of successful 6.500 motions have been filed years after the defendant was convicted and while they were serving their sentence.

The rules and requirements governing Michigan 6.500 motions appear clear and fairly easy to understand. However, the issues raised in these motions must be presented in certain ways or the motion will be denied. Also, every issue that can be raised must be raised. If they are not, the defendant might lose the last opportunity to have them heard.

A common mistake defendants often make is when after their direct appeals are denied, and out of desperation, they file a 6.500 motion on their own (sometimes with the not-so-great advice of a “jail house lawyer”), or with the help of an attorney who either handled their direct appeals or who is unfamiliar with the nuances and specific requirements of 6.500 motions. When their motion is denied, they have no choice but to try what Michigan law calls a “successive motion”, which are much more difficult to get granted. It is important to get it right the first time if possible.

If you were convicted of a criminal offense in Michigan and were either unsuccessful on direct appeal or missed your filing deadlines, a 6.500 motion might be your last option to get a court to review viable claims for relief. You need a skilled Michigan post conviction attorney. We have experience with 6.500 motions. Contact us now. We are here to help.

Michigan Record Expungement

Are you one of the thousands of Michiganders with a criminal record? A public criminal history can have a number of negative consequences. It can be a barrier to employment, disqualify you from housing, prevent you from enjoying certain rights like firearm ownership / possession and jury service, and can cost you many other opportunities.

Michigan criminal record expungement–also called setting aside convictions–offers certain persons convicted of crimes in Michigan who have reformed themselves an opportunity to clear their criminal record of certain criminal convictions.

Successfully completing the process of setting aside a conviction–Michigan record expungement–means that the affected criminal record becomes sealed and is no longer public going forward. It entitles a person to legally declare that they were never charged with or convicted of the expunged crimes. A person who completes the process of setting aside a conviction can enjoy a Michigan public record that reflects who they are now, not who they were or what they might have done in the past.

Over the past several years the Michigan expungement statute has undergone a number of changes that have made the conviction set aside process easier for petitioners and applicable to more types of convictions. That said, a court is not required to grant a properly filed petition. It must look to the petitioner’s behavior and believe that granting the petition would benefit the public welfare. In other words, a petitioner who seeks to set aside qualifying convictions, and who correctly files their petition under the law, must still persuade the court it should grant their request. What’s more, a petitioner who is denied must wait several years before they are allowed to try again.

If you want to petition a court to order setting aside your convictions you should contact a qualified Michigan expungement attorney who is familiar with Michigan expungement eligibility requirements and the Michigan expungement process. Not only can they help ensure your petition meets the technical statutory requirements, they may have insight into your particular court and how to best present your request to the judge.

Michigan Probation and Parole

Probation and parole are structured, supervised alternatives to incarceration. In exchange for the opportunity to serve their sentence outside the confines of prison or jail, those on probation or parole are required to faithfully observe any number of terms, conditions, requirements, and prohibitions. Probationers and parolees accused of violating these rules often face possible jail or prison.

In Michigan, probation violation charges are typically handled by the original sentencing court. Parole violation allegations, however, are dealt with by the Michigan Department of Corrections–specifically the Parole Violation Unit and Michigan Parole Board. Both have procedures and legal standards quite different from the traditional criminal court process that preceded them.

Violation allegations are further complicated when the alleged conduct is also a crime and leads to new criminal charges, which is not uncommon. If you are accused of violating the terms of your probation or conditions of your parole, you need an experienced Michigan probation and parole lawyer who knows the rules and law unique to these proceedings and understands how courts and the Parole Board approach them. We have successfully defended countless clients in these seemingly unwinnable situations. Contact us if you have questions and need answers. We are here to help.