The importance of the trial record for a Michigan criminal appeal

On Behalf of | Jan 18, 2017 | Criminal Defense

An individual who is convicted of a crime in Michigan has the right to appeal that conviction. Knowing how cases are heard on appeal is critical because the steps an accused individual takes during an initial case can shape the way his or case is resolved on appeal.

Why is that? First of all, a case that is appealed is reassessed based on the lower court’s record and not on new evidence. Therefore, if an accused individual fails to offer evidence during his or her trial, that evidence cannot be considered on appeal. (If the defendant offers evidence but the judge refuses to admit it, however, that refusal can be the subject of an appeal.) The same holds true for any objections that could have been made at the trial. If a defendant fails to make timely objections during trial, then they generally cannot be used to try to sway an appellate court to change the judgement.

It may be easier to think of how the appellate courts work. In essence, these courts analyze the lower court’s transcript of what was said during the trial and what evidence was admitted to see if the lower court made any legal errors when reaching its decision. If the appellate court does find errors, then the conviction may be overturned and sent back to the lower court for further hearings. If no errors are found, then the lower court’s judgement will stand.

Armed with this knowledge, accused individuals in Michigan need to do everything they can to create favorable record at trial, with the expectation that their case will go up on appeal if they are convicted. Those who only put forth a half-hearted effort could put themselves at risk of not only conviction and the penalties that may accompany it, but also an unfavorable outcome on appeal.


Source: FindLaw, “Criminal Appeals Overview,” accessed on Jan. 13, 2017



FindLaw Network