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Appealing a Michigan DUI

appeal drunk driving in court(1).jpegIn Michigan, a criminal defendant has a right to appeal after a conviction. This applies to all offenses including those related to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. This right generally applies if the case actually goes to trial. If you accepted a plea deal, you will ordinarily have waived any automatic appeal rights and must request leave (permission) to appeal.

If your appeal is successful, you may be able to have the conviction reversed or the sentence or the penalties reduced or you may be granted a new trial. An appeal is a complex, lengthy, and costly process. While you have the right to appeal, you may not have sufficient grounds (reasons) to win the appeal. As to certain grounds for appeal, the higher court may have discretion to rule in your favor or not.

A decision to appeal should be made in consultation with experienced legal counsel who knows the statutes and rules and who has handled many other DUI cases on appeal.

As with any actions following a criminal conviction, there is only a short time frame in which to act. If you miss the deadline, then you have no other recourse.

First Step

An important first step after a DUI conviction is to formally ask the original trial judge to grant a new trial or overturn the conviction. This relief is rarely granted, but it's a step that's necessary to take before proceeding on to a full-blown appeal.

Filing an Appeal

An appeal is not a new trial. It's not a second "bite at the apple." You aren't allowed to present new or additional evidence, testimony, or arguments. Instead, it is a specific type of reevaluation by a higher court to determine if legal errors have occurred. The appeals court will take a look at the facts of your case and consider how the trial judge handled your case to ensure that you received a fair trial and that the sentence is fair.

The first action to take is to file a formal notice of appeal within the time period set by Michigan statute. Then, you and your lawyer must prepare and provide the appeals court with the "record" of your DUI trial. This includes court transcripts of the proceedings, including witness testimony, as well as exhibits.

Your lawyer will then file an opening brief to persuade the appeals court judges to rule in your favor, and the prosecutor will respond with a brief arguing that the conviction should be upheld. Your lawyer then files a reply brief.

You may have a number of post-conviction options including an appeal. Your counsel can help you evaluate which option to select, based on the specific facts and circumstances of your case, and make sure that deadlines are met and that all procedures are strictly and timely followed.

More importantly, it is critical that you select competent counsel to represent you in your DUI case at the trial court level. Your DUI trial attorney should be able to effectively represent you and defend you so that an appeal is unnecessary.

I provide legal representation to Ann Arbor residents arrested and/or charged with drunk driving. I invite you to contact me to discuss your case in more detail. Call 734-274-6567 to speak with me directly. 

Sources

http://courts.mi.gov/Courts/COA/clerksoffice/Documents/Appellant Manual

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