Why File an Appeal?

FAQs: Why file an appeal?

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FAQs About Michigan Criminal Appeals

Four Reasons Why You Should Talk to an Experienced Appellate Lawyer

  • Sometimes, innocent people really do get convicted.
  • Sentences that are imposed by judges are not always fair.
  • Defendants, like everyone else, have constitutional rights that must be honored by the legal system.
  • An experienced and aggressive appellate lawyer may still be able to improve the outcome of your case.

Prosecutors vs. Defense Attorneys

Television shows are notorious for depicting court room scenarios where the angry prosecutor goes after innocent people to prove a point, or violent offenders get off on some technicality because of the clever tactics of public defenders who only care about winning and not about justice. Often, in these "made-for-prime-time" dramas, the offender goes back onto the street unrepentant, only to commit an even more heinous crime. But this is not typical of what really happens in Michigan court rooms.

The Prosecutor's Real Job

The reality is the prosecutor has only one job to do: get a conviction by proving beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty. A dilemma results because the prosecutor must work from a "presumed guilty until proven innocent" position, but our legal system says a person is "innocent until proven guilty." For this reason, prosecutors try hard to keep evidence or testimony that might add reasonable doubt to someone's guilt out of the courtroom, and may offer plea bargains to avoid going to trial in a flimsy case.

The Defense Attorney's Real Job

The defense attorney's job is to defend innocent people, as well as to ensure that their client's rights are honored by the criminal justice system even if they did commit an illegal act. In other words, regardless of the guilt or innocence of a client, the defense attorney’s job is to ensure they are treated fairly by the legal system.

How Post-Conviction Legal Service Can Help You

Our criminal justice system is set up to ensure justice for people that are accused of a crime. Throughout each step, the defendant has various legal options to consider. They may be offered a plea bargain in exchange for being charged with a lesser crime with the promise that the prosecutor will recommend a lighter sentence. If you accepted a plea bargain you were probably told you were giving up the right to a trial and to an appeal if you plead guilty. But that is not necessarily true.

In some cases, it may be possible to change or withdraw a guilty plea to restore the right to motion for a new trial. In other cases, you may be able to appeal for a lighter sentence or probation.

Innocent People Can be Convicted of Crimes They Did Not Commit

With the advances made in collecting and processing forensic evidence, we often read about cases of innocent people being to sent prison for many years only to be cleared later by DNA evidence. Innocent people have been convicted of committing horrible crimes, including rape and murder, without any real physical evidence, based on the testimony of traumatized victims and witnesses. Even though the system is clear: a defendant must be found “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” legal errors, human errors—and even personal bias, can lead a jury to render a guilty verdict even when there may actually be considerable doubt.

As is the case with any system, sometimes, our justice system fails and the defendant suffers as a result. When this happens, there is still another avenue the defense attorney can use to help a client—the appeal.