Michigan CSC Case: Appeals and Post Conviction

There are two main kinds of appeals for CSC cases in Michigan: appeal of right and appeal by leave of court. A defendant has one appeal of right after he is found guilty by a jury. The Michigan Constitution does not allow defendants who have pled guilty an appeal of right, so their appeals can only be by leave of the court. Applications for leave to appeal are granted or denied by the Michigan Court of Appeals.

Defendants can only have one appeal of right in felony criminal sexual conduct cases, which is an appeal to the Michigan Court of Appeals. Further appeals to the Michigan Supreme Court are only granted by leave of the court, which means that the Supreme Court must first grant permission to the defendant before it hears the appeal.

Valid Applications of Appeal in a CSC Case

When pleading guilty to a felony CSC case, the defendant gives up his right to appeal. Therefore, most applications to the court for leave to appeal are denied. Applications for leave to appeal are sometimes granted in cases where the defendant entered into a conditional plea or in cases where the defendant is alleging that his trial counsel was so ineffective that the lawyer’s poor performance prejudiced the defendant’s ability to have a fair trial. One who pleads guilty may also raise other constitutional claims on appeal, such as double jeopardy claims, challenges to the sufficiency of the evidence at the preliminary examination, preserved entrapment claims, mental competency claims, and claims that the defendant was charged under an inapplicable statute.

State criminal case appeals to the United States Supreme Court are rare, as the U.S. Supreme Court chooses which cases its hears and can only hear cases based on challenges under the United States Constitution. The U.S. Supreme Court cannot hear appeals based solely on Michigan law.

Other After-Trial Motions that can be Filed in a CSC Case

There are several post-conviction writs and motions that can be filed after the conclusion of a criminal trial, including a motion for a Ginther hearing, a motion for relief from judgment, a motion for a new trial, and a petition for the federal writ of habeas corpus.

Ginther hearings are held when a defendant wants a new trial based on the claim that he received ineffective assistance of counsel at his first trial. Motions for sentence review and modification, known as a motion for relief from judgment, can be filed in cases where the defendant claims that he was illegally sentenced under the Michigan Sentencing Guidelines, such as where a defendant receives a sentence outside of the statutory maximum.

Motions for a new trial are rarely granted, but when they are granted, they are granted in cases where there has been new evidence discovered or where the interests of justice require a new trial. In order for a new trial to be granted based on the discovery of new evidence, there are four requirements that must be met. First, the evidence must be newly discovered and the defendant could not have known about it before or during the trial. Second, the evidence must be material, meaning it could have an important effect on the outcome of the trial. Third, the defendant’s failure to know about the evidence before the verdict was not because of a lack of due diligence on the defendant’s part, meaning that it was not the defendant’s fault that the evidence was not discovered. Finally, the new evidence must be significant enough that it would likely result in a different outcome if a new trial is granted.

Motions for a new trial based on the interest of justice argument can sometimes be granted if the defendant can show that the jury in the first trial was biased or that other jury misconduct occurred. A motion for a new trial can be granted if improper instructions were given to the jury, or if there was any judicial or prosecutorial misconduct.

Filing a Writ of Habeas Corpus in a CSC Trial

A defendant who is serving a prison sentence may file a petition for the federal writ of habeas corpus, which is not a direct appellate review of his conviction. Instead, a writ of habeas corpus is a collateral attack on the conviction, alleging that a legal or factual error was made at trial. The purpose of the writ is to determine whether the defendant has been lawfully incarcerated.

Asking for the Governors Clemency in a CSC Case

A person’s final post-conviction option is clemency granted by the governor of Michigan, but clemencies are not granted in many cases. The Michigan Constitution allows the governor to “grant reprieves, commutations and pardons.” A commutation is defined as the reduction of an individual’s sentence to a specified term such that the Michigan Parole Board has the authority to determine when that individual is eligible for parole. A pardon erases a conviction from an individual’s record. Again, these options are a defendant’s last resort and do not involve the judicial system.

If you have questions about any stage of a sex crimes case involving you or a loved one, call our office at 1-800-677-9795 or use the Contact Us form for a free consultation. We are available 24/7 to take your call.