post-conviction / Appropriate relief

Motion For Appropriate Relief (MAR)

A Motion for Appropriate Relief, or “MAR” is a motion made to correct errors made during a criminal trial or proceeding. MAR’s are created by North Carolina Statute § 15A 1420 and allow a convicted criminal to challenge the legitimacy of his or her conviction. Mr. McSpadden understands that courts are not infallible—like anyone, a judge can make a mistake. If you believe a court made an incorrect decision that landed you or a loved one in jail, do not hesitate to contact us to discuss your options. Timing is critical to an MAR, so call today.

A Motion for Appropriate (MAR) is a statutory vehicle for challenging a problematic conviction. Although it is similar to an appeal, an MAR also allows for an evidentiary hearing if needed. Thus, a judge can review the evidence presented at the original trial or even consider evidence newly discovered, to review whether or not the conviction should stand.

An MAR may be granted for a number of reasons, but the following are most common: the defendant did not fully understand the ramifications of a guilty plea; the court misapplied the relevant law or applied the incorrect law; the evidence simply could not support the jury’s finding; new evidence or technology to analyze the evidence has become available; the defense attorney was ineffective in representing the defendant; or a new law has developed which retroactively affects the conviction.

While an MAR is most often filed by a convicted individual, both the judge and the prosecution can also file an MAR.

An MAR is usually filed in writing in the court where the defendant was convicted. It cannot be filed until after a verdict is rendered in the underlying case. The moving party must show that they have reviewed the trial transcript, identified a legal basis for the MAR, and that the motion is being made in good faith.

After taking care of these preliminaries, the defense then files the MAR with the superior court of the district where the conviction took place.

At this point, the motion will go before a judge who will review the claim and determine whether or not a hearing is necessary. A judge may decide that an evidentiary hearing is necessary to resolve outstanding factual issues.

Finally, if a judge, considering the facts and the relevant legal inquiries, decides that the moving party was prejudiced in his or her conviction, the judge may provide appropriate relief. If the individual was denied a proper, fair hearing on the merits of the conviction, this may result in a reversal of the underlying conviction.

If you believe you or a loved one were convicted by unfair or illegitimate means, don’t hesitate to contact McSpadden Law, P.C. today at 704-868-2292.

Criminal Appeal

If you have been a party charged, tried and convicted of a crime at the District Court level you have a absolute right to appeal for a trial “de novo” in Superior Court where you will be afforded a trial by jury. This means you will have a new trial as if no previous trial and conviction had taken place. You must give notice of appeal in open court at the time of your conviction or you must file a Notice of Appeal within 10 days of the date of your conviction. If you did not have an attorney at your district court trial, it is very important to obtain one immediately to perfect your appeal.

If you have been a party charged, tried and convicted of a crime at the Superior Court level an appeal usually lies to the North Carolina Court of Appeals. An Appeal to the Appellate Courts is a complicated matter with many time limitations and other filing requirements. Again, it is very important to obtain and retain your appellate attorney immediately so that no deadline will be missed. Even if the Court of Appeals rejects an appeal, a defendant may seek relief from the North Carolina Supreme Court. Mr. McSpadden can help you determine whether any errors were made in the trial court that led to the conviction in your case.

When a party seeks assistance on appeal from McSpadden Law, P.C., the first thing we do is analyze the proceedings in trial court to determine whether any errors of law or procedure were made. Lawyers, prosecutors, judges and juries are responsible for adhering to certain rules both inside and outside of the courtroom. If these rules were not followed, the conviction against a party may have been obtained in error.

Judges have a lot on their plate, and they are expected to keep up with laws, rules and concepts that are constantly changing and evolving. It may come as no surprise to learn, then, that sometimes judges make rulings that are in error. When and if they do, we can raise the error on appeal and bring it to the attention of an appellate court. The appellate courts have the power to reverse a judge’s ruling. They also have the power to reverse a person’s criminal conviction—even a person who was convicted by a jury.


The North Carolina legislature has made and may continue to make many changes to the laws concerning the expungement of criminal convictions. Expungement is a court ordered process in which the legal record of an arrest or a criminal conviction is “sealed,” or erased in the eyes of the law. When a conviction is expunged, the process may also be referred to as “setting aside a criminal conviction.”

A party seeking assistance for an expungement from Mr. McSpadden may be asked to first obtain a criminal history from the Clerk of criminal court in each county in which a criminal charge has been brought to bring to the initial consultation. Then the criminal record will be reviewed and compared to the expungement statutes then in effect to determine if you qualify for an expungement. If so, Mr. McSpadden, if retained, will proceed to see you through the expungement proceess.