Appeals in Michigan: It's More
Complicated Than You Think

Whether you have been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor, in federal or state court, by a plea or by trial, it is important to understand that you have rights to an appeal. Most people don’t even know the difference between the right to appeal and requesting leave to appeal. Most people don’t know what a 6.500 motion is. And most people don’t know what it takes to take an appeal from state court to federal court. At Chris Kessel Law blog, Chris will explain what these things are, how these processes work, and give his opinion on some of the biggest cases happening right now.

Types of Appeals

It is important that before you undertake an appeal of your conviction, you understand what an appeal is NOT. An appeal in a criminal case is not a chance for the court of appeals to reexamine the evidence in your case so that it can second guess the judge or jury. An appeal in a criminal case is based around an error in law, i.e. a piece of evidence that should have been admitted was prohibited, or a statement from a witness that was admitted should have been disallowed, or the jury was instructed improperly, or a sentence that was imposed was improperly above the sentencing guidelines. These are errors of law and can be considered by the court of appeals.

When considering an appeal of your case, you should know that there are two different kinds of appellate rights: the automatic right to appeal, and the right to request leave to appeal. While these two rights sound similar, they are very different.

6.500 Motions

6.500 motions, otherwise known as “motions for relief from judgment” are a unique kind of appellate motion. 6.500 motions allow a defendant to challenge their conviction for ANY reason that has not previously been appealed. 6.500 motions are generally based on claims of ineffective assistance of counsel, newly discovered evidence, and other arguments that do not make their way into general ‘run of the mill’ appellate briefs. What makes 6.500 motions so special is that a defendant can ask for relief for “good cause”, which allows for an unlimited number of arguments to be made – so long as they can be considered good cause.

6,500 motions are not only unique, but they are also very delicate matters. A 6.500 motion may only be filed ONCE. That means that if a defendant, while bored in prison and looking for ways to pass the time, decides his lawyer was ineffective and files a poorly written and researched 6.500 motion and it is denied, that is it. There are no second chances when it comes to 6.500 motions. That is why it is extremely important to have an attorney who is familiar and experienced in appellate law to draft a well written and researched brief, but also an attorney who knows what arguments will and will not work before a judge.

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