What is a Motion for Appropriate Relief?

The American justice system has never claimed to be perfect. A defendant has only ever been guaranteed a fair trial, not a perfect one. There is rarely, if ever, such thing as a perfect trial. However, this does not mean you should accept clear errors being made, especially when they cause a defendant to face serious consequences. When there is an error before, during, or after a criminal trial, the affected party must file a motion for appropriate relief  (MAR) to remedy the situation.

courtroom, where defense attorneys will present bars and defenses to prosecution

The Purpose of a Motion for Appropriate Relief (MAR)

Both types of MAR are used to avoid an appeal. There is nothing keeping someone from appealing the case, but an MAR can be more time and cost effective. In fact, a party can file a motion for appropriate relief regardless if they have given notice of appeal.

The MAR statutes lay out guidelines for how courts are to handle MARs, but there is no timeline for ruling on them. A Motion for Appropriate Relief can be granted without a decision by the judge if the State and defendant consent to the motion.

The court can rule any way they believe fit on an MAR. This could can rule to vacate a conviction, and even can dismiss the charges. If the Court does not dismiss the charges, then simply vacating the conviction leaves the door open for the State to retry the defendant. This means it is imperative to ask for a dismissal of the charges when filing a motion for appropriate relief. The Court is never going to give more than you ask for, so smoke ‘em if you got ‘em. This also relates to the ability for expunction. A defendant may only be able to obtain an expunction if the charges are dismissed.

Types of MAR's

There are two types of MARs. The first is used within 10 days after a final judgment is entered. These MARs are used to seek correction of an error from the trial judge. They are filed so quickly that the trial judge can usually fix the issue and the moving party can avoid an appeal.

The second type of MAR can be filed at any point after judgment is entered. This type of MAR is used to correct larger issues, such as, jurisdictional issues, constitutional violations, or the use of critically defective charging documents.

How to File an MAR

Like all other motions, an MAR is filed in writing to the court the case took place. An MAR can be filed by either party, but it is usually filed by a convicted defendant. The moving party must show a legal basis for relief and it must be done in good faith.

The MAR must be filed with the Court, but it must also be served to the District Attorney in all cases, and the Attorney General if it is a capital case. This is to give the State notice in case a hearing is needed to better decide the issues.

Contact an MAR Lawyer

Not all attorneys are versed in trial court, or the many motions they can take advantage of to guarantee their client a fair trial. Here, at Tarlton Polk, we are well versed in working with the State and Courts to successfully right errors during trial. Whether it be through an appeal or a motion for appropriate relief, we will make sure justice is the guiding light of the final judgment.

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