Understanding the Two Different Motions for Appropriate Relief in North Carolina

If you have been convicted of a crime in North Carolina, you might be feeling defeated. However, a conviction is not the end of the road for a criminal defendant. In North Carolina, defendants have several different options to appeal the criminal conviction. After a North Carolina court convicts a defendant of a crime, the defendant has a right to appeal the conviction. Before submitting an appeal, however, the defendant may choose to file a Motion for Appropriate Relief, also referred to as “MAR.” An MAR is a post-verdict motion made to correct errors occurring either prior to, during, and/or after a criminal trial.

Motion for Appropriate Relief, Option One

Article 89 of the North Carolina General Statutes provides two types of MAR, the first of which is governed by N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1414. Pursuant to this statute, a criminal defendant may seek a MAR for any error that occurred before or during the criminal trial within 10 days after the entry of judgment. This option is generally exercised in the case of a defendant wishing to bring an error to the attention of the trial judge, which the judge can correct almost immediately without defendant’s having to exert the time and expense of an appeal.

There is no limitation as to errors committed prior to or during the trial, which may be asserted during the period beginning with the verdict and ending 10 days after the entry of judgment. A MAR made pursuant to G.S. 15A-1414, may be made and acted upon in the trial court whether or not notice of appeal has been given. The official commentary to N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1414 states that the listing of possible errors in subsection (b) is designed as a helpful checklist and not as a limitation. Specifically, subdivision (b)(1) indicates that the statute may be used to remedy an error of law. Subdivisions (b)(2) and (b)(3) concern errors alleging the improper exercise of judicial discretion.

Motion for Appropriate Relief, Option Two

The second type of MAR is governed by N.C. Gen. Stat. § 15A-1415 and generally may be filed at any time after entry of judgment. A noncapital defendant may at any time after verdict, assert a motion for appropriate relief upon any of the ground enumerated under in this section. Conversely, in a capital case, a postconviction motion for appropriate relief must be filed within 120 days from the latest of the following:

  1. The court's judgment has been filed, but the defendant failed to perfect a timely appeal;
  2. The mandate issued by a court of the appellate division on direct appeal pursuant to N.C.R. App. P. 32(b) and the time for filing a petition for writ of certiorari to the United States Supreme Court has expired without a petition being filed;
  3. The United States Supreme Court denied a timely petition for writ of certiorari of the decision on direct appeal by the Supreme Court of North Carolina;
  4. Following the denial of discretionary review by the Supreme Court of North Carolina, the United States Supreme Court denied a timely petition for writ of certiorari seeking review of the decision on direct appeal by the North Carolina Court of Appeals;
  5. The United States Supreme Court granted the defendant's or the State's timely petition for writ of certiorari of the decision on direct appeal by the Supreme Court of North Carolina or North Carolina Court of Appeals, but subsequently left the defendant's conviction and sentence undisturbed; or
  6. The appointment of postconviction counsel for an indigent capital defendant.

The only grounds for which a defendant may assert a MAR more than 10 days after an entry of judgment are outlined under subsection (b). The most commonly asserted grounds for a MAR under this subsection include constitutional claims and jurisdictional claims. An assertion that the defendant did not knowingly, intelligently, or voluntarily enter a guilty plea or waive the right to be represented by counsel are examples of claims of unconstitutional convictions. An assertion alleging a charging document, such as an indictment, was fatally defective is an example of a jurisdictional claim. The statute allows, for good cause shown, an extension of time for the defendant to file a motion for appropriate relief. Typically, the time extension is no more than 30 days, however it is at the discretion of the court if they wish to allocate more time.

What Types of Relief can be Granted from a Motion for Appropriate Relief

The relevant North Carolina laws spell out the types of relief a judge can grant via a MAR. Judges have the authority to overturn the defendant’s conviction. Or, the judge might decide to issue an order for a retrial. The best outcome for a defendant happens when the court enters an order dismissing your charges in addition to granting your Motion for Appropriate Relief.

Hiring Experienced Lawyers for Your Motion for Appropriate Relief

Has a North Carolina court convicted you of a crime? Do you suspect that the court made an error or violated your constitutional rights? If so, you need to hire an experienced lawyer as soon as possible. At Arnold Smith Law, PLLC we fight hard for our clients throughout criminal trials and we keep fighting after a criminal conviction. Our legal team can evaluate your case and help you determine whether you should file a Motion for Appropriate Relief. Call us at (704) 370-2828 or fill out our contact form online. Now taking cases throughout North Carolina with offices in Uptown Charlotte, Mooresville, and Monroe.