The Law offices of Arnold & Smith - John Price Carr House
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What are Motions for Appropriate Relief in North Carolina?

In North Carolina, a Motion for Appropriate Relief (MAR) is a motion made after a criminal judgment. The purpose of a Motion for Appropriate Relief is to correct any errors that happened during the trial process. Additionally, a Motion for Appropriate Relief can address any errors related to the court's entry of a guilty plea.

North Carolina allows defendants to file Motions of Appropriate Relief when injustices have been done during the criminal proceeding. Defendants can ask the court to order a new trial or vacate their convictions in a Motion for Appropriate Relief. Skilled North Carolina criminal defense attorneys help clients prepare compelling and thorough Motions for Appropriate Relief.

What is the Process for Filing a Motion for Appropriate Relief?

North Carolina's statutory law provides the rules that govern the filing of Motions for Appropriate Relief. Time is of the essence when it comes to filing a Motion for Appropriate Relief. The statutory guidelines require a person to file seek relief within 10 days of the entry of a guilty verdict. Defendants do not need to wait until the end of their trial, however. The MAR can address any error that occurred before the trial, during the trial, or as part of the entry of a criminal judgment.

A defendant can file a second type of MAR at any time after the entry of judgment. This type of MAR is governed by another statute. Motions stemming from this statute involve serious constitutional violations that would require the judge to vacate the judgment or require a new trial. A MAR of this type can only bring forth errors specified in the statute, such as:

  • The trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the case
  • The conviction of the defendant violated the state or federal constitution
  • A claim that a charging document or indictment was defective in a serious way
  • The defendant did not intelligently, knowingly, or voluntarily enter a guilty plea
  • The defendant did not knowingly waive the right to representation by counsel
What are the Benefits of Filing a Motion for Appropriate Relief?

Filing a MAR allows the defendant to bring errors to the judge's attention. The judge then has the opportunity to correct the errors quickly. In many cases, the judge corrects the issue or offers relief without the significant expense and lengthy amount of time it takes to file an appeal. A MAR allows the defendant to request a particular type of relief, such as:

  • Dismissal of all criminal charges
  • A new trial
  • A new sentencing hearing
  • Vacating the judgment

The North Carolina government has recently made a defendant's ability to obtain relief broader. The new amendments to the MAR statutes allow North Carolina judges to grant a MAR when the State and the defendant's consent. Additionally, the court cannot vacate a first conviction of prostitution with a MAR. The best-case scenario for a defendant happens when a judge not only makes an order to vacate the conviction but dismisses the criminal charges. Prosecutors can retry the defendant if the court does not dismiss the criminal charges.

Motions for Appropriate Relief Hearings

After filing a Motion for Appropriate Relief, a judge will set a date for a hearing on the motion. Litigating a MAR is a complex process. Attorneys need to conduct a thorough review of all previous hearings and pleadings in the trial. They also may need to interview witnesses who testified at trial. The defendant and his or her attorney should present supporting documents and affidavits after researching significant legal issues. Presenting the best and most persuasive evidence and arguments at the MAR hearing is essential to winning the motion.

Our MAR Attorneys can Help You

If you are facing criminal charges or a court has recently convicted you of a crime, our attorneys can help. At Arnold & Smith, PLLC we have helped many clients file successful Motions for Appropriate Relief. It is important to remember that all is not lost, even after a criminal conviction. However, time is of the essence. Depending on the type of claim made in the MAR, a defendant might only have 10 days after their conviction to file the MAR.

Our lawyers have the experience and skill necessary to prepare a thorough and persuasive Motion for Appropriate Relief. Contact our Charlotte criminal defense law firm today to learn how we can assertively fight for your rights throughout the criminal trial process. Do not delay; our law firm offers free initial criminal defense consultations to new clients.