DMX Appealing Sentence To State's Highest Court

Lawyer says judge, who ordered rapper to serve 15-day jail term, wrongfully interpreted guilty plea to reduced charge.

DMX will appeal the 15-day jail sentence he was ordered to serve to New York's highest court, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Mark Mahoney, who is defending the rapper on his arrest last March on charges of traffic violations, driving with a suspended permit and possessing marijuana, said acting State Supreme Court Justice Joseph P. McCarthy wrongfully interpreted DMX's guilty plea to a reduced charge of driving without a license when he rejected the appeal on Thursday.

"[McCarthy] interjected that when you plead guilty you are not given the right to appeal the legality of your conviction or challenge the harshness of the your sentence," Mahoney said. "I disagree."

Mahoney is preparing applications to the New York Court of Appeals, asking that a judge review the case. In the meantime, Mahoney will also ask that DMX (born Earl Simmons) be granted a stay of sentence, meaning the rapper would not have to serve jail time while his application, and possibly case, is reviewed.

Erie County Assistant District Attorney Mike Marion, one of the prosecutors in the case, said he did not want to comment on DMX's appeal until Mahoney turns in the applications.

"I do believe [McCarthy] was right in his decision," Marion said. "And he cited at least one case that supports the notion that if a defendant is aware of the possible penalties and still pleads guilty, he or she should not be able to appeal."

The New York Court of Appeals, which is located in Albany, New York, will likely take a month to decide whether or not to review the case, Mahoney said.

McCarthy had requested that the Grammy-nominated rapper surrender within two weeks to begin serving time in the Erie County Correctional Facility in Alden, New York.

DMX, who was arrested March 3 on the Kensington Expressway (see "DMX Arrested On Driving, Drug Possession Charges"), skipped a March 23 court date on the charges, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. He turned himself in nearly a week later in Cheektowaga, New York, where Town Justice Ronald E. Kmiotek ordered the maximum 15-day jail term and $400 in fines after DMX pleaded guilty to the reduced charge.

The rapper was recently nominated for two Grammys, including Best Hip-Hop Album for ... And Then There Was X. DMX must either be granted a stay of sentence or begin his jail term by February 6 in order to attend the Grammy ceremony, set for February 21 in Los Angeles.