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Marko Law Firm

Appellate Attorneys: Advocates for Justice and Your Legal Rights

If you've found your way to this page, chances are you or a loved one has faced the daunting challenges that come with a criminal conviction in Michigan. Whether following a trial or after accepting a plea deal, the specter of jail or prison time may be looming, and you may be asking yourself, "Is this the end of the road, or is there still hope for justice?"

A Glimpse of Hope

In Michigan, particularly in most criminal cases, you have the opportunity to appeal. The nature of this appeal will depend on the unique circumstances of your case. For now, let's focus on felony appeals from a circuit court to the Michigan Court of Appeals, a type of appeal we often encounter. We'll discuss misdemeanor appeals and appeals to the Michigan Supreme Court in due course.

The Odds of Winning a Michigan Criminal Appeal

To be candid, the odds of winning your Michigan criminal appeal, according to statistics, may not be in your favor. Data indicates that only about 2 to 3% of criminal convictions are overturned in the Michigan Court of Appeals, with similar odds in the Michigan Supreme Court. In simple terms, there are no guaranteed, slam-dunk criminal appeals in Michigan. Every case is an uphill battle.

However, it's crucial to remember that statistics do not reveal the whole story. As Mahatma Gandhi wisely stated, "In matters of justice, the only real odds are those we create ourselves." The right attorney can defy these odds and be the difference between victory and defeat in your appeal. In no uncertain terms, some criminal appeal attorneys excel while others do not. Many attorneys may go their entire careers with only a handful of successful appeals, while others consistently secure victories.

The Timeframe for a Michigan Criminal Appeal

Conventionally, a Michigan criminal appeal is estimated to take about 15 to 18 months. The process begins with the filing of a claim of appeal with the Michigan Court of Appeals, a step that must occur within 42 days after sentencing. Subsequently, it typically takes around three months for transcripts of the court proceedings, such as trial, sentencing, motion hearings, and others, to be prepared.

Following this, several months are devoted to the briefing stage, where written legal arguments are presented explaining why your conviction should be overturned. The defense files an initial brief, the prosecutor responds with their own, and the defense may then reply, providing the last word in the appeal.

The case subsequently undergoes an internal review by court staff and eventually proceeds to oral argument, where attorneys appear before a panel of three judges who will decide the appeal. Typically, within one to four weeks after oral argument, the Court of Appeals will release a written opinion, either affirming or reversing your conviction.

In the event that your appeal is unsuccessful at the Court of Appeals, you have the option to file an application for leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court. Generally, within four to six months, the Michigan Supreme Court will decide whether to grant or deny the application. If granted, more briefing and oral arguments follow, and it could be a year or more before the Supreme Court issues a final decision.

In summary, the criminal appellate process in Michigan spans anywhere from 15 months to over 2 years. Expedited procedures may exist in some cases, but the determination of whether these options apply and are advisable should be made in consultation with an experienced criminal appeals attorney.

Experience is Key in Appeals

Our background gives us a unique insight into how Michigan's appellate courts review cases. We understand the elements that lead to successful appeals and those that do not. We doubt there's another criminal defense firm in the state with our wealth of experience and our impressive track record.

Our Track Record of Success

Marko Law has consistently excelled in appeals. Over the past two decades, we've achieved overturned convictions in both the Michigan Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court. In 2015, 2019 & 2020 we secured victories in Appellate Decisions.

Understanding the Types of Appeals

If you underwent a trial and were found guilty of a felony, you possess what is known as an "appeal by right" or "appeal as of right." In other words, you have an automatic entitlement to an appeal. You can take your case to the Court of Appeals, and the court must review the issues you raise that you believe should result in either a new trial or a reduced sentence. It could be a matter of your belief that your trial attorney did not represent you adequately or that the trial court judge displayed bias. Regardless of the specifics, the Court of Appeals must consider your case and render a written decision.

To initiate an appeal by right, you need to act swiftly. You have a mere 42 days after sentencing to file a "claim of appeal" with the Court of Appeals. This claim serves as formal notice that you intend to appeal your case. Simultaneously, you will need to order transcripts of all the circuit court proceedings pertaining to your case, which include your trial, sentencing, and any pretrial hearings, among others. Contrary to common belief, these transcripts are not produced during the trial or other court proceedings. The court reporter only begins to prepare transcripts once you file a claim of appeal and order the transcripts. If you retain an attorney or have one appointed for you, this process will be handled on your behalf.

In most cases, it takes approximately three months for the court reporter to complete the transcripts. Following this, you will have 56 days to prepare your "brief on appeal," the essential legal argument that conveys the details of your case and why you believe your conviction should be reversed or your sentence reduced. Once your brief is submitted, the prosecutor has the opportunity to respond with their own brief. Subsequently, the defense can reply to the prosecutor's response in a "reply brief," which provides the final argument in the appeal.

Upon the submission of all briefs, your case will be presented to a panel of three judges at the Court of Appeals. In most cases, you will have the opportunity for "oral argument," where you and your attorney can appear before the three judges to advocate your case. After oral argument, the Court of Appeals typically issues a decision within a month.

This process is time-consuming. From the initial filing of the claim of appeal to the final decision, you should be prepared for a waiting period of 15 to 18 months. However, in some instances, the Court of Appeals can be persuaded to expedite the appeal.

If you reached a verdict through a plea deal, the journey is a bit more challenging. Instead of an appeal by right, you must file an "application for leave to appeal" with the Court of Appeals. In this scenario, the Court of Appeals makes an initial determination on whether to consider your appeal at all. The Court of Appeals reviews numerous applications for leave to appeal, and very few are granted. Convincing the Court that your case merits their attention and resources is essential.

As with appeals by right, swift action is critical. After sentencing, you have a mere 21 days to file a timely application for leave to appeal with the Court of Appeals. If you miss this 21-day window, you can still file a "delayed" application for leave to appeal within six months of sentencing. In practice, timely and delayed applications are generally treated the same by the Court of Appeals. Therefore, even if you've passed the 21-day threshold, pursuing an appeal could still be worthwhile.

Typically, the Court of Appeals renders a decision on whether to grant or deny your application within one to three months. If your application is granted, your case will proceed much like an appeal by right, involving further briefing, oral argument, and a written decision.

Appealing to the Michigan Supreme Court

Regardless of whether your case initially went to the Court of Appeals as an appeal by right or an application for leave to appeal, if your appeal is unsuccessful, you have the option to take your case to the Michigan Supreme Court. Similar to the United States Supreme Court, the Michigan Supreme Court can choose which cases it hears. You will need to file an application for leave to appeal within 56 days of the Court of Appeals' decision in your case. It's crucial to persuade the Court that your case carries significant implications for the state's jurisprudence.

In most cases, you can anticipate the Michigan Supreme Court's decision on your application within approximately six months. If your application is granted, the Court will request additional briefs from both parties, along with oral arguments, where you get to present your case before the seven justices on the Court. Following oral arguments, the Court typically issues a written decision several months later. From having an application granted to receiving a decision, the process often spans the better part of a year.

Exploring Post-Conviction Options

But what if you've already exhausted your appeals with no success? Does your case end here? Not necessarily. Even if several years have passed since your last appeal, you may still have options. Depending on the specifics of your case, you might be able to file a motion for post-conviction relief, often referred to as a "6.500 motion." These motions grant you the ability to raise issues that were not previously addressed during your trial or initial round of appeals, or to present new evidence that could influence your case. In general, post-conviction motions are challenging to win. To be successful, you need to demonstrate good cause for why the issues you're raising were not previously addressed, either at trial or in your initial appeals. Typically, post-conviction motions are granted only when new evidence is discovered that convincingly establishes your innocence.

Circuit Court Appeals

While most of the discussion has focused on appeals from circuit court to the Court of Appeals, we also handle appeals from district court to circuit court in misdemeanor cases. The process is quite similar, but the timelines are considerably shorter.

If you were convicted after a trial, you have an appeal by right, and you must file a claim of appeal in the local circuit court within 21 days after sentencing. This claim initiates the appeals process, and you will also need to order transcripts of all the proceedings that took place in district court. Once the transcripts are available, you have 28 days to file your brief on appeal. The prosecutor also has the opportunity to submit a brief on appeal, and then you have the chance to file a reply brief. After this, oral argument typically takes place, followed by a written or oral decision issued by the circuit court judge. Unlike appeals in the Court of Appeals, which are heard by a panel of three judges, circuit court appeals are typically heard by a single judge.

If you accepted a plea deal, you have 21 days after sentencing to file an application for leave to appeal in the local circuit court. A circuit court judge will assess whether they want to hear your appeal. If your application is granted, your case will proceed similarly to an appeal by right, involving briefing, oral argument, and a final decision.

If you failed to file a timely claim of appeal or an application for leave to appeal, you can still file a delayed application for leave to appeal in the circuit court within six months of your sentencing.

Get in Touch

The realm of appeals is intricate and challenging. We've endeavored to cover the fundamental aspects here, but if you have more specific questions, please don't hesitate to reach out. Appealing a conviction is a formidable task, and to stand any chance of success, you need a knowledgeable, skilled, and experienced legal team. That's where we come in. You can contact us online or call our 24/7 defense hotline at 313-777-7LAW. 

Historic Cases by Jon Marko:

Here are some examples of noteworthy cases handled by Jon Marko:

  • Cahoo v. SAS Analytics Inc., 912 F3d 887 (6th Cir, 2019) -Link to Case

These cases exemplify Jon Marko's dedication and success in the field of appellate law. He has a proven track record of handling complex legal issues and advocating for his clients' rights.

In Summary

Navigating the world of appeals in Michigan is a complex and challenging journey. At Marko Law, we understand the intricacies of the legal system and have a history of success in handling appeals. We take pride in our ability to secure victories in appellate cases, even in the face of daunting statistics.

Whether you have the right to an appeal, need to file an application for leave to appeal, or are exploring post-conviction options, our experienced team is here to guide you through the process. We provide comprehensive legal support to help you present a compelling case and fight for your rights.

Don't let the statistics discourage you. With the right legal representation, you can increase your chances of a successful appeal. If you have questions or need assistance with your appeal, don't hesitate to reach out to Marko Law, a dedicated advocate for justice and your legal rights.

Contact us today through our online portal or call our 24/7 defense hotline at 313-777-7LAW. We are ready to support you on your path to justice.



Avoiding Common Appeal Mistakes

In the realm of Michigan criminal appeals, it is imperative to collaborate with the best possible appellate attorney to steer clear of frequent pitfalls that could jeopardize your case's success. Appellate cases often unfold as intricate and challenging battles, and our seasoned criminal defense attorneys possess the knowledge necessary to pursue a more favorable outcome in Michigan criminal cases. While overturning a court decision through appeal is seldom easy, adhering to the correct procedures and evading common appeal missteps will substantially enhance your chances of securing a reduced sentence or a reversed conviction.

Secure a Victory in Your Criminal Appeal with Assistance from a Michigan Criminal Appeals Lawyer in Detroit, Lansing, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids, and Across Michigan

Don't hesitate to reach out to Marko Law if you or a loved one has been convicted of a crime in Michigan. Our attorneys are fervent advocates for clients statewide facing the specter of jail time, fines, a criminal record, and other severe penalties. Selecting the right appeals attorney is your pivotal first step after a criminal conviction since inadequate representation often robs individuals of a better outcome. Our team of Michigan appellate lawyers is dedicated to guiding you through the post-conviction process, elucidating the legal matters affecting your case every step of the way. Contact our appellate law firm without delay to embark on a journey with an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will lead you through your post-trial proceedings.

Selecting a Criminal Appeals Lawyer in MI

The most significant misstep in an appellate case is failing to connect with the appropriate appeals lawyer. It is of utmost importance to collaborate with a team of attorneys who not only possess a profound comprehension of appellate law but also boast extensive experience in handling diverse and intricate cases. Marko Law boasts a rich history in criminal appeals, with over a decade of dedicated service in appellate courts across the state. Our founder, Jon Marko, commenced his legal career with a notable stint in the Michigan Court of Appeals, endowing him with invaluable insights into the appellate process and the potential impact of different legal issues on your case.

Additionally, prompt attorney retention is pivotal, as a delay in seeking legal representation could pave the path to failure. The moment you or a loved one faces a conviction, reach out to Marko Law to explore post-trial options. Our legal team is at your service 24/7, no matter your location in Michigan.

Our attorneys possess the expertise to scrutinize case details and uncover invaluable information that could be instrumental in an appellate case. Our compelling briefs and persuasive arguments are designed to safeguard your rights and freedom inside and outside the courtroom. Our research skills leave no stone unturned, ensuring that every conceivable angle is taken into account.

Procedural Mistakes in MI Criminal Appeal Cases

Engage the services of an appellate attorney who comprehends the winning formula for an appeal and appreciates the marked disparities between appellate cases and trial court cases. The appellate realm is governed by strict time constraints, intricate procedures, paperwork, and fees that must be comprehended to ensure your case is heard. Marko Law will guide you in meeting deadlines and navigating the intricate paperwork demands, enabling you to fully exercise your right to appeal.

Federal Criminal Appeals in Michigan with Marko Law

If you believe that an unjust verdict in your federal criminal case resulted from legal errors, you may be contemplating an appeal of the judge's decision. It's important to understand that an appeal is not a reevaluation of the evidence but rather a critical review of legal procedures. Your trial attorney could prepare the notice of appeal and related briefs, or you might opt for new legal representation specifically for this phase of your case. In cases where your prior attorney failed to meet the reasonable standards expected of legal counsel in your district, you may even have grounds to claim ineffective assistance of counsel.

If you find yourself wondering about your trial and the viability of a successful appeal, consider reaching out to Marko Law. Our team is dedicated to thorough examination, delving into the intricacies of your case, and dissecting the pertinent legal frameworks. We will assess your post-conviction options meticulously in the context of your federal criminal case.

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