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Appeals against sentence and conviction

You or a loved one may have just received a penalty or conviction you consider to be unjust. We understand that when considering whether to appeal against a conviction and sentence or appealing against your sentence only, you are likely to want clear advice of your options and the likelihood of success. This very short window of time is often coupled with a sense of disillusionment and can be particularly frantic as you may need to launch your appeal and change representation within a matter of days to protect your position.

There are strict timescales involving appeals which we have outlined below and the Court can refuse to reconsider your case if the deadlines are not met by you or your legal team so the number one priority at this time is to ensure you file your appeal notice. However, the details you include on the notice need to be carefully considered with expert strategic input.

We offer a number of service options to meet your needs when considering an appeal allowing you to take the step of filing an appeal on a staged basis with agreed fees worked out in accordance with your budget and the work we will need to undertake.

Appeals from the Magistrates’ Court

If you want to appeal your conviction or sentence handed down in the Magistrates’ Court then you have an automatic right of appeal as long as the appeal notice is lodged within 21 days from the day you are sentenced. Should you fall foul of the 21 day period then you would have to make a further application to ask that the Court allows you to bring your appeal out of time. The Court could refuse to consider the appeal unless you have a good reason for appealing late.

Appealing your sentence

If you think that your sentence was excessively harsh, you can appeal and ask the Crown Court to reconsider the penalty imposed in the Magistrates’ Court. Every offence that is heard in the Magistrates’ Court is governed by a set of sentencing guidelines. The most common reason for appeals against sentence is that the sentence handed down by the Court was “manifestly excessive”. If the Court departs from or misinterprets the sentencing guidelines, or if the Court imposed your sentence applying a higher bracket than what was warranted by the circumstances of the offence then you should seriously consider appealing the sentence.

Any appeal from the Magistrates’ Court will be heard in the Crown Court and will be heard by a Crown Court Judge. If the Court agrees that the sentence was too harsh then they have the power to reduce the penalty and impose a more lenient sentence.

Appealing your conviction

The same right of appeal applies if you are convicted in the Magistrates’ Court after having pleaded not guilty to the offence. Again, you will be required to file the appeal notice within 21 days from the date you were sentenced for the offence. The appeal will be heard in the Crown Court and the facts of the case will be heard again before a Crown Court Judge and two Magistrates. If your appeal against conviction is successful, the original conviction will be removed from your record and any financial penalty you were ordered to pay will be refunded to you.

We are often instructed on cases by clients who have been convicted in the Magistrates’ Court when they had either been represented by other firms or had represented themselves. In the majority of these types of cases, are able to identify many issues that had not been explored during the Magistrates’ proceedings leading to a conviction being overturned.

Appeals from the Crown Court

If you are appealing against a conviction or a sentencing order from the Crown Court you do not have an automatic right of appeal as you do in the Magistrates’ Court. Should you wish to appeal from the Crown Court you must apply for permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal. The appeal is therefore a two stage process. You need to submit grounds for appeal in which you explain the grounds for an appeal to the Court of Appeal. If permission if granted then your case will be heard before the Court of Appeal.  The deadline for appealing from the Crown Court is 28 days from the date you are sentenced.

Cost consequences

If you do appeal then the superior Court has a discretion to reduce the overall sentence, however they are also able to impose an even harsher sentence if the Court feel it appropriate to do so. You will also be required to pay costs if your appeal is unsuccessful.

Cost recovery

If you are successful in appealing either your conviction or sentence, subject to whether your case was initially heard in the Magistrates’ Court you may be eligible for a Defendant’s Cost Order which will entitle you to recover some of the fees you incurred in relation to funding the case. The Court will always limit such recovery to “legal aid rates” which are often significantly less than the overall amount you paid, it is still nonetheless worth bearing in mind that a portion of your money can be recovered should you be successful.

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