Motions for Appropriate Relief

A motion for appropriate relief (MAR) is a way to challenge a conviction after other avenues have been exhausted. You need an experienced attorney to determine if an MAR can help you. Attorney Jonathan Friel has years of experience with MARs and knows how to spot a potentially successful claim.

What is a Motion for Appropriate Relief?

A Motion for Appropriate Relief, commonly called an “MAR,” is a legal motion to challenge a conviction or a prison sentence.  An MAR may be filed because of newly discovered evidence, ineffective assistance of counsel, sentencing errors, legal errors, or other reasons listed in the statute. An MAR is not the same as an appeal.

The process

If someone hires an attorney to help them with an MAR, first the attorney will review the court records, transcripts, evidence, interview witnesses, and do legal research to investigate potential claims that may go into the motion for appropriate relief. This phase can take a while, especially if records are hard to locate or if transcripts need to be ordered. It is important to really be thorough at this stage. In some cases, if a defendant files an MAR and leaves out any claims, the courts may not let them bring those claims up later.

 Next, if the attorney finds that there was something that they believe should and could be corrected by the courts, they will file a motion that describes the claims they are making.  The motion is filed in the same court where the judgment and conviction were entered.

The court may tell the state to respond to the MAR by filing an answer. Following that, the court may order a hearing and allow the defendant to present evidence and make arguments. Sometimes the defendant won’t be given a hearing, and sometimes the court may outright deny claims if it feels they are frivolous or unfounded.  On the other hand, when an MAR is successful, the court can grant extraordinary relief, including ordering a new trial, dismissing the charges, or reducing the prison sentence.

Don't go it alone.

MARs are complicated and involve deep legal issues and procedures. If the procedures aren’t followed properly, or if the legal issues aren’t argued correctly, the chances of success can be much, much lower. Also, filing an MAR can eliminate a person’s right to bring up the issue again in the future, so it is important to get it right.  Anyone considering filing one should carefully consider their options for legal representation.

Attorney Jonathan Friel offers skilled legal representation to people, including prisoners, seeking to challenge their convictions. He has significant experience with MARs. Prior to forming Friel Law in 2020, Jonathan was an Assistant District Attorney for the State of North Carolina (Forsyth County). While a Prosecutor, he often handled MARs in Superior Court including those filed in murder cases and other serious felony cases.

The FRIEL LAW approach.

After an initial consultation, Mr. Friel will review and investigate a claim at an hourly rate to determine if there are possible grounds for relief. The review and investigation process cannot be overlooked because finding and asserting previously undiscovered legal errors may yield a successful claim. Determining whether you have legitimate grounds to file an MAR is the crucial first step.  At Friel Law, we only file motions we believe have a realistic chance for success.

If you’re wondering whether you have meritorious legal grounds to file an MAR challenging a sentence or conviction, contact Mr. Friel for a consultation.  The rate for a consultation is $100 for 30 minutes. The results of a successful motion for appropriate relief could be life-changing for you and your family.

The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Attorney Jonathan Friel will only provide legal advice and counsel to established clients.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Generally, yes. The MAR statute is fairly broad. The type of criminal charge usually won’t factor into whether a meritorious MAR can be filed.  However, some types of charges may have different procedural requirements.

In most cases, the defendant must be able to make a claim that meets the criteria in N.C. Gen. Stat. 15A-1415.  Commonly claimed grounds for relief include: lack of jurisdiction, constitutional violations, retroactive court decisions or laws, and unauthorized sentences.

The cost depends on the complexity of the case and the amount of time involved in properly researching, investigating, filing, and hearing a motion.  MARs are billed at an hourly rate.  A significant portion of the anticipated fees are due prior to any legal work being done, and are held in a trust account.  The amount to be placed in trust is determined during an initial consultation.

The legal fees associated with fully litigating a serious felony MAR will likely exceed $15,000 and in many cases exceed $20,000 or more. 

No. Mr. Friel does not offer free representation. 



This blog post is authored by staff at FRIEL LAW, PLLC. The content provided on this page is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice. Attorney Jonathan Friel will only provide legal advice and counsel to established clients.