Motion for Appropriate Relief
There are times when things happen in court that are in error. Despite substantial protections afforded under the Constitution, our system of justice is very much human.
The court system doesn’t always get it right. Judges, lawyers, and prosecutors make mistakes. Laws change. Witnesses get it wrong. New evidence gets revealed.
No nefarious purpose or intent is required. Any system operated by imperfect beings is subject to error.
The question is, “Can a mistake in court be fixed?” Frankly, the answer is, “It depends.”
If relief is available, there’s a good chance it would be pursuant to what defense lawyers in NC may refer to as a “MAR.”
MAR is the acronym for Motion for A ppropriate Relief.
Some lawyers may also refer to that as an MFAR, thinking if you’re going to use an acronym, you might as well us all the letters associated with the term.
It really doesn’t matter what you call it. What counts is whether you’re eligible for relief from an unjust judgment or not.
What is a Mar?
“The whole point of filing for relief is to set aside a conviction if possible. It’s a difficult, complicated area of law. I firmly believe it helps to have a lawyer standing by your side in court.”
– Bill Powers, Criminal Defense Attorney
Everyone is entitled to the protections of the 4th Amendment, 5th Amendment, and 6th Amendment of the Constitution, which include things like your right to fair trial, equal protection under the law, and due process.
Timely filed, filing for a MAR is one way to ensure such rights are protected, even after a finding of guilty or plea of guilty and judgment has been entered.
A Motion for Appropriate Relief is a formal motion, in written form and filed with the Clerk of Court. A Certificate of Service to the State (the District Attorney’s Office) is required.
Filing for “appropriate relief” institutes a legal proceeding, which ordinarily requires a hearing before a Judge, seeking to correct errors that may have taken place during, after, and even before a criminal trial.
That may also include other “proceedings,” such as motions and hearings, including errors in entering a Guilty Plea.
Motions for Appropriate Relief in North Carolina are technically brought pursuant to Article 89 of the NC Criminal Laws: Chapter 15A.
Specifically, there are two important legal reference materials to carefully consider: N.C.G.S. Chapter 15A-1411 and N.C.G.S. Chapter 15A-1422.
There are generally two different kinds of MAR. The first is pursuant to N.C.G.S. 15A-1414.
In those matters, Appropriate Relief is subject to a 10-day filing deadline. Allegations of errors associated with a conviction for a criminal offense that took place before or during the trial proceedings may seek relief.
The second type of MAR is handled under N.C.G.S. 15A-1415 and is not strictly subject to the same 10-day filing restrictions.
They may be filed at any time after the entry of judgment, with certain exceptions and conditions precedent.
Indeed, there may still be important “drop dead” filing dates and timing restraints, depending on the type of criminal charge.
Each case is different. If you have specific inquiries regarding the applicability and/or eligibility of filing a MAR, speak to legal counsel without delay. Time is of the essence.
For example, in capital murder cases, such motions must be filed no more than 120-days after one the following things (whatever last took place):
- The Entry of Judgment has been made, but the accused failed to timely perfect the appeal;
- The time for a Petition for Writ of Certiorari to the USSC (United States Supreme Court) has expired without the filing of a petition, and the mandate is issued on direct appeal to the appellate division;
- The USSC denies a timely filed Petition for Writ of Certiorari (or “Cert”) that is on direct appeal to the USSC;
- The Supreme Court of NC denies a discretionary review and the USSC also denied a timely filed Petition for Writ of Cert seeking a direct appeal and review by the NC Court of Appeals;
- The USSC grants the State’s or Defendant’s timely filed Petition for Writ of Certiorari on direct appeal to the NC Court of Appeals or the NC Supreme Court, leaving the conviction undisturbed; or
- Upon the appointment of legal counsel for a post-conviction appeal for capital punishment (death penalty) indigent defendant.
Clearly, that’s pretty complicated stuff.
If you have a post-conviction appeal issue associated with filing for relief under the statute, it makes sense to talk to legal counsel immediately.
Please Note: Our law firm does NOT handle appeals to the Courts of Appeal. We are courtroom lawyers, focused on the litigation of issues in District and Superior Court.
At the same time, we want to help people and if able, we’re more than willing to refer you to legal counsel who may be able to assist in your legal need.
We charge nothing for such consultations. We also do not request nor receive referral fees.
The defense lawyers at our law firm believe it our duty to try to help people in legal trouble.
As such, if we don’t practice in a particular jurisdiction, cannot serve as legal counsel because of a conflict of interest, or don’t handle certain types of legal matters or cases, do what we can to help people find competent legal representation.We are not a Legal Referral Service
Senior Attorney Bill Powers, as a past President of the North Carolina Advocates for Justice and a trial attorney with substantial experience handling matters throughout many courts in North Carolina, knows and has seen the work of some of the best lawyers in North Carolina.
What are the Legal Grounds for a MAR?
“I’m more than willing to point people in the right direction when I can. The best part of practicing in so many different NC courtrooms, trying cases, is working with and getting to know other lawyers. If I can connect someone in need with another attorney who may be able to help, it’s an honor to do so.”
– Bill Powers, Charlotte Lawyer
After the 10-Day filing period, there may be some availability for relief by the Court. N.C.G.S. 15A1415(b) limits such Motions to things like:
- Lack of proper personal jurisdiction over the Defendant in criminal charges
- Lack of proper jurisdiction over the subject matter of the criminal prosecution
- The acts as alleged in the criminal pleading (Warrant for Arrest, Criminal Summons, and/or Indictment) were not violations of the criminal law at the time the alleged offenses took place
- The conviction was based on violations of the Constitution of North Carolina or the United States
- Significant changes in the law, either procedural or substantive in nature, and retroactive application of new laws using the changed or updated legal standard is required
There are also “save all” provisions to the statutory filing requirements for a MAR under subsection (c) of Chapter 15A-1415 that provide for relief any time after the verdict is entered in matters where new evidence becomes known.
That too is subject to some level of limitation, in that the unknown or recently discovered new evidence must have been unavailable to the accused at the time of trial and could not have been discovered or otherwise made available after due diligence.
Finding some form of new evidence, including testimony from a witness at trial that was later recanted, must also have made a difference.
The Court will review new evidence, determining whether it is material and would have had a direct bearing on whether the Defendant was found Guilty or Not Guilty.Motion for Appropriate Relief Lawyers – Powers Law Firm PA
We don’t charge legal fees as part of a legal consultation for criminal charges. That includes determining eligibility for a MAR during the initial consultation.
Furthermore, everything you tell us is strictly confidential.
Give us a ring at: 704-342-4357. If we think we can help, we’ll let you know what the next steps are to retain the firm and the associated legal fees to do so.
You may also reach Bill Powers directly by emailing him at: Bill@CarolinaAttorneys.com