Motion for Appropriate Relief
Previously, we wrote a blog about district court criminal appeals in North Carolina. In North Carolina, there is another remedy that is sometimes available to criminal defendants. This is called a motion for appropriate relief (“MAR”). A motion for appropriate relief is a motion that is made to correct errors that were made in a criminal proceeding. A criminal defendant can use this motion as a way to challenge a conviction or sentence.
What happens if my MAR is granted?
A judge can either correct the error or may grant an appeal that enables you to start over. This will depend on your issue and the grounds for which you have filed the MAR.
When does a criminal defendant make a motion for appropriate relief (MAR)?
An MAR should be made after judgment. The purpose is to correct errors made before, during, or after a criminal trial or proceeding. This motion can be made whether the conviction occurred as the result of a trial or a guilty plea. In other words, you are not precluded from using this motion just because you pled guilty to a criminal charge.
Are there time constraints on filing an MAR?
There are two types of MARs. All MARs can be filed within ten days of the entry of judgment. But, certain MARS cannot be filed once ten calendar days have passed since the entry of judgment. Conversely, other MARs can be filed at any time. Whether you must file within ten days or have unlimited time to file depends on what grounds you a filing your MAR under.
When must an MAR be filed within ten days of entry of judgment?
The first type of MAR seeks to remedy certain errors made during or prior to trial. It must be made within ten days of the entry of judgment. This type of MAR is governed by N.C.G.S. 15A-1414. These errors include:
- Any errors of law
- The court erroneously failed to dismiss the charge
- The court’s ruling regarding motions or the admission of evidence was contrary to law
- The evidence was insufficient to justify submission of the case to a jury
- The court erroneously instructed the jury
- The verdict is contrary to the weight of the evidence
- Defendant did not receive a fair and impartial trial
- The sentence imposed is not supported by evidence introduced at trial and the sentencing hearing.
MARs that can be filed at any time
The other type of MAR can be made at any time after the entry of judgment. This type of MAR is governed by N.C.G.S. 15A-1415. Some grounds for filing this type of MAR include:
- The acts defendant has been charged with committing do not amount to a violation of criminal law
- The trial court lacked jurisdiction over the defendant or the subject matter
- The conviction was obtained in violation of the US or NC constitution
- The defendant was convicted or sentenced under a statute that was in violation of the US or NC Constitution
- The defendant was prosecuted for conduct that is protected by the US or NC Constitution
- There has been a significant change in the law that led to the conviction
- The judge imposed an unauthorized sentence
- Defendant is in confinement but his sentence has been fully served
- Evidence which was previously unknown or available to the defendant at the time of the trial has been discovered
- Certain prostitution offenses have special grounds for MAR
Note that different rules may apply to MARs regarding capital offenses.
What if I gave notice of appeal?
MAR is different from appeal. You can file a motion for appropriate relief regardless of whether you have given notice of appeal.
If you think you have grounds for an MAR, you should speak to a criminal defense lawyer. Remember that there may be a time limit on when you can file this motion, so speak to your criminal defense attorney about this early on.