Do you need a “do-over”? And what is a Motion for Appropriate Relief?

Motion for Appropriate Relief   Did you get some bad advice?  Did you pay your ticket online without consulting an attorney?  Or you may have pled guilty due to coaxing by an officer or other unqualified party, and now your insurance has increased or you found out your license is suspended. If you believe your conviction was defective, there is a second chance available by a "Motion for Appropriate Relief" (MARs).  MARs can be filed for most criminal matters, including traffic violations, misdemeanors and felonies. For example, if you were convicted of a criminal offense and someone other than your attorney told you to plead guilty, that may be a defect that warrants an MAR. A MAR is a motion made after judgment to correct any errors that occurred before, during, or after a criminal trial or proceeding, including errors related to the entry of a guilty plea.  It is a legal mechanism that allows people who have been convicted of a crime to challenge their conviction because the conviction was obtained in violation of their Constitutional rights. The most common grounds raised in a MAR are:
  • violation of the right to effective assistance of counsel
  • Pleading guilty without advice of an attorney
  • Improper advice by unqualified parties such as police officers, DMV or Court personnel
  • newly discovered evidence
  • prosecutorial misconduct
  • actual innocence or
  • Illegality of sentence.
All the grounds for a Motion for Appropriate Relief under listed under N.C.G.S. § 15A-1415.    Under a related statute G.S. 15A-1414, a person convicted of a criminal offense may seek relief for any error that occurred before or during trial within 10 days after entry of judgment.   G.S. 15A-1417 describes the relief available when a court grants a motion for appropriate relief, including vacating of a conviction if the court finds it invalid for one of the reasons described in G.S. 15A-1415. An order vacating a conviction does not necessarily terminate the criminal case; the State may retry the defendant unless, in addition to vacating the conviction, the court enters an order dismissing the charges. The Court has the authority to order that an MAR or dismissal nunc pro tunc, a Latin phrase literally meaning "now for then," is a concept derived from the common law that is utilized by courts as clerical correction or as an equitable remedy. An order issued nunc pro tunc has retroactive legal effect, essentially modifying a previous order or entering an effective date of a court order retroactively. This can be critical when your license is suspended by DMV because of prior convictions that were obtained defectively.   Filing a Motion for Appropriate Relief can be very complicated depending on the case. An experienced attorney will review your case, and may need to interview witnesses, investigate the facts of the case, review the discovery that leads to new evidence, and review the entire history of the case from start to finish. Sometimes the court will require an evidentiary hearing to be held on the motion, where the lawyer will have to call witnesses, present evidence, and challenge the State's evidence, and make arguments to the court.   Hiring the right attorney for the job can be the difference between a winning motion and a losing motion.  Call today for a free consultation on whether an MAR is the right action for you.

One thought on “Do you need a “do-over”? And what is a Motion for Appropriate Relief?

  1. my cousin is a first offender and got to much time. i need a lawyer who can get him a motion for appropriate reease.

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