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When a person has been convicted of a crime, he or she has the right to file an appeal with the Minnesota Court of Appeals. In some cases, an appeal can reach the Minnesota Supreme Court. While the Court of Appeals accepts every case review request that they receive, the Supreme Court only hears a small number of appeals.

Common Reasons for an Appeal

There are different reasons why a person may want or need to appeal their conviction. Some of those reasons are:

The District Court made an adverse ruling on a Constitutional matter.

  • For example, often times a drug conviction is based on either the issuance of a warrant or search of an automobile. An experienced defense attorney will file a motions to suppress, or throw out, evidence that has been uncovered as a result of such a search. If the District Court rules against the defendant, it is worth exploring the possibility of an appeal of that decision  The questions to be asked are: Did the officer have probable cause to believe that the vehicle was involved in a crime, thus justifying the search? Did the officer provide sufficient probable cause in the Affidavit in Support of the search warrant?
  • Another example is when a conviction is based on an admission or statement made by the defendant. The questions in this case are: was the defendant properly advised of his or her Miranda Rights? Were their statements forced or coerced in any way? If the Court of Appeals finds that the statement violated the 5th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Minnesota State Constitution, the statement will be suppressed and the conviction reversed.
  • Another common example is when an officer stops a vehicle and a DWI arrest is made. A defendant can appeal the basis of the stop of his or her automobile.  If it is determined that the stop was not supported by a reasonable articulable suspicion, all evidence uncovered as a result of the illegal stop will be suppressed, and the conviction will be overturned

Insufficient Evidence

  •  If a conviction is based on evidence that appears to be insufficient to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt, an appeal may be worthwhile.  Although this is a difficult issue on which to prevail, if the Court of Appeals agrees the conviction will be overturned

An Illegal Sentence

  • In Minnesota, sentences are imposed pursuant to a sentencing guidelines scheme.  If the District Court sentenced a defendant to a prison term that exceeds those guidelines, an appeal can be taken to correct the illegal sentence.

Probation Violations

  • If the District Court finds that a defendant has violated their probation, a probation violation will be filed with the District Court.  If found to be in violation, the court can impose “intermediate sanctions”, such as a few weekends in jail, to fully executing the prison sentence.  If the court executes the full sentence, the defendant can appeal that disposition.

Excessive Bail

  • In the State of Minnesota, every crime is bailable by “sufficient sureties”.  Moreover, the purpose of bail is to assure future court appearance by a defendant.  If a District Court orders an unreasonably high, or unattainable bail, an Interlocutory appeal can be filed. This means that the defendant doesn’t have to wait until conviction before an appeal can be filed.


If the Minnesota Court of Appeals rules against a defendant on a direct appeal, he or she can petition the Minnesota Supreme Court for review of that decision. The Supreme Court only accepts 10% of the cases that request review. Most often, the Supreme Court accepts cases when an unresolved constitutional issue is in dispute.  The Court will also hear cases where a Court of Appeals decision is contrary to established law, or different District Courts are issuing conflicting decisions on a similar matter.

Carson J. Heefner has more than 25 years of experience in the appellate courts in the State of Minnesota. He has argued over 60 cases in the Minnesota Court of Appeals and 2 cases before the Minnesota Supreme Court. When you need an experienced and skilled Minnesota appeals lawyer, Carson is the one to call.

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Contact A Minnesota Appeals Attorney

Contact Carson at 612-202-8971, or, for a free evaluation of your case.