Appeal against a conviction
Being wrongly convicted of a criminal offence is devastating. However, conviction and subsequent sentencing does not necessarily mean the end of the matter. You may still have the chance to appeal your conviction and/or the sentence imposed. The criminal defence lawyers at Qamar Solicitors are experienced in advising and representing clients appealing their convictions and sentences.
It is inevitable that mistakes are made in the criminal justice system. High profile miscarriages of justice cases are testament to this. This is why the law allows a defendant convicted of a crime to subsequently appeal in some instances. It is possible to appeal the conviction, the sentence – or both. However, not every case can be appealed.
Appeals from the Magistrates’ Court
You can appeal your conviction to the Crown Court, unless you pleaded guilty. You can appeal your sentence, even if you did plead guilty. Notice to appeal either conviction or sentence must be given to the prosecutor within 21 days and the Crown Court will give you an appeal date. The appeal will be heard by two magistrates and a Crown Court judge and the whole of your case will be reheard. It is important to note that whilst the court can quash the conviction or reduce the sentence, it can actually impose a different sentence which may in fact be harsher. In addition, if the court considers you should not have appealed in the first place, you may be ordered to pay the prosecution’s costs. In circumstances where we believe the Magistrates’ Court has got the law wrong in your case, you can appeal to the High Court by a procedure called ‘by way of case stated’. This type of appeal is concerned more with the law than the evidence in the case. If an appeal by way of case stated succeeds, the case is usually sent back to the Magistrates’ Court.
Appeal from the Crown Court We will examine your case, the judge’s summing up and the sentencing and advise you if you have the grounds to appeal. For instance, if we believe the judge was wrong in law in summing up or in directing the jury; or if we think the sentence is too harsh, we may advise you to appeal. If we advise you that you don’t have grounds to appeal, you are free to make your own appeal application, or even to seek a second opinion from another law firm. However, we are confident in our depth of experience in advising and representing defendants who want to appeal.
If we advise you to appeal, your barrister will prepare a document setting out the grounds of appeal. We will then complete an application for ‘Leave to Appeal’ and send this to the relevant court (either the Court of Appeal (Criminal Division) in London or the High Court) within 28 days of the sentencing.
A single appeal judge will consider the application and decide whether the application has a reasonable chance of success and give the reasons for the final decision in writing. If granted, the appeal will then be heard in the full court (sometimes with witnesses giving evidence) and will then make its decision.
If the appeal is allowed, these are the court’s options:
Appeal against conviction: the conviction can be quashed, or a re-trial may be ordered
Appeal against sentence: a reduced sentence may be substituted
What if it fails?
If the application before the single judge fails, you can still request that the application is heard before the full court. However, this carries the risk of harsh penalties if it is refused. For instance, time already spent in custody may not be counted as part of the sentence.
If the appeal before the full court fails, you have the option of applying for your case to be reviewed by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC), for instance, where fresh evidence has arisen in support of your case.
The CCRC will consider representations made on your behalf and, if satisfied there is a real possibility your conviction was unsafe, it can refer the case back to the Court of Appeal. We can advise you on whether there are sufficient grounds on which to refer your case to the CCRC. How can we help? We don’t stop working for our clients when they are convicted and sentenced. We work to determine if they have grounds to appeal either their conviction or sentence – or both. The criminal defence lawyers at Qamar Solicitors are highly experienced in representing clients charged and convicted in the criminal courts, and in subsequent appeals or before the CCRC. Seek our help as early as possible for your best chance.