Solicitors specialising in criminal appeals
The English Legal System is perceived to be the gold standard across the world. However it isn’t perfect and sometimes decisions are made that are wrong. Innocent people can be convicted. Sentences can be too long. The question is whether or not anything can be done when the Courts do get it wrong.
At Olliers we have experienced solicitors that can look at such cases and see if there is any scope to appeal such decisions. This could apply to a number of situations.
Appealing Magistrates’ Court decisions
If you have been convicted of an offence at the Magistrates’ Court that you disagree with, there is an automatic right of appeal to the Crown Court. We can look at the case papers, prepare the case for appeal and instruct experienced counsel on your behalf to challenge the conviction.
If you are unhappy with a sentence or perhaps the imposition of a restraining order we can also seek to challenge this at the Crown Court if there are grounds to do so.
Guide to appealing Magistrates’ Court decisions
- You can appeal a conviction, sentence or both together.
- An appeal needs to be lodged within 21 days or explanation why late.
- There is an automatic right of appeal.
- An appeal is heard at the crown court before two magistrates and a crown court Judge. There is no jury.
- If you are appealing conviction then there will be a full retrial.
- If appealing sentence, then the court will hear the full case facts and mitigation again.They will then come to a decision with either a successful or unsuccessful outcome.
- If you successfully appeal sentence then the court can impose a new lesser sentence.
- If unsuccessful appeal sentence then either the same sentence stands or risk of a tougher sentence being imposed.
- If successful appeal conviction then the defendant would be acquitted.
- If you unsuccessfully appeal conviction then the conviction still stands.
Appealing Crown Court decisions
There is no automatic right to appeal Crown Court convictions. An application has to be made to a single judge first to seek permission to appeal to the Court of Appeal. If this is refused then the application could be pursued to a panel of judges. The application needs to be carefully drafted by experienced lawyers if it to have any chance of success. Grounds for appealing a conviction could be due to:-
- Misdirection of law
- Non-direction on the law
- Failure to refer to a defence
- Misdirection on the facts
- Inappropriate comment by the judge
- Wrongful admission or exclusion of the evidence
- Defects in the indictment
- Rejection of no case to answer
- Jury irregularities
- Irregularity in relation to verdict
- Prosecution responsibilities such as non-disclosure or late change in nature of the case
- Additional evidence not available at the time of the trial
The same applies for an application for leave against sentence. Careful consideration has to be given to the case, looking at any relevant case law or sentencing guidelines, before any advice is drafted.
Guide to appealing conviction at the Crown Court
- There is a time limit of 28 days post conviction.
- Can be applied for out of time with explanation.
- The sole ground is that the conviction is unsafe. This could be due to a number of things.
- Process of appealing conviction: Single Judge, Leave to appeal, Panel of Judges.
- If the appeal is successful, the court will quash your conviction and it is removed from the official record. In some circumstances the court may set aside the conviction but allow the prosecutor to start a new trial against you.
- If the appeal is unsuccessful, normally no change is made to the trial verdict, but in some cases the appeal court may substitute a conviction for a less serious crime (this cannot normally be done on appeal from the Magistrates’ Court). Risk of extra time if appeal deemed to be without merit.
- Grounds to Appeal conviction: The conviction is ‘unsafe’.
Guide to appealing sentence at the Crown Court
- An application needs to be submitted within 28 days after sentence.
- An application can be made out of time with explanation for delay.
- It is sent to a single judge first. If he grants leave then there is a full appeal hearing.
- If the single judge doesn’t grant leave then you can renew appeal to a full panel, however there is a risk of extra time if deemed to be without merit.
- The grounds to appeal are that the sentence needs to be ‘manifestly excessive’ or the Judge made an error of law.
- If the appeal is unsuccessful then the sentence remains. However, if the court find the appeal without merit then there is a risk of additional time equivalent to time spent on appeal.
- If successful then the court will impose a reduced sentence.
How can Olliers help if you want to appeal?
We can advise you properly and fully where you stand in relation to the law and procedure and the possibility of success. We have offices in both Manchester and London but can advise on appeals anywhere in England and Wales.
What do we need from you if you want to appeal?
We would need to have the original case papers and any relevant transcripts from Court. If your previous solicitors have advised about the prospects of appeal we would need their advice on appeal.
What happens next?
We would collate and consider all the relevant case papers, any relevant case law and sentencing guidelines to give initial advice. If needed, we would seek advice from a specialist barrister, who could look deeper into any specific weaknesses in the case.
What appeal successes have Olliers had previously?
- MF v R – Olliers successfully referred a case to the Court of Appeal through the Criminal Cases Review Commission. This related to a conviction in 1985 for robbery. The appeal was on the basis that one of the Police Officers in the original case was corrupt. Evidence had subsequently come to light with regards the officer’s misconduct. He was ultimately acquitted of this offence and the case received nationwide publicity.
- CM v R – Alex Preston brought a successful appeal against conviction in 2016. The client had been convicted of an historic rape in December 2014 at the Crown Court and received a 6 year custodial sentence. He came to us following this and we had the conviction quashed in the Court of Appeal in January. He was bailed at that hearing, pending a re-trial. In October 2016 the re-trial took place: he was acquitted.
- H v R – Matt Corn appealed a case when the Court of Appeal was highly critical of the conduct of the prosecution for failing to disclose relevant surveillance footage at the initial trial where the client was convicted. The conviction was overturned due to material non disclosure.
- B v R – We successfully appealed a Crown Court conviction out of time where the Judge was criticised by the Court of Appeal for being repetitive and this prejudiced the jury. The conviction was deemed to be unsafe.
- KH v R – Toby Wilbraham appeared in the Court of Appeal in October 2016 where he successfully appealed a sentence imposed for dangerous driving and handling. The sentence was reduced from 30 months to 20 months.
- TB v R – Max Saffman successfully appealed a conviction from Blackpool Magistrates’ Court at Preston Crown Court in 2015. The client had been convicted of an assault.
How much do we charge for appeal work?
The cost depends largely on the amount of paperwork. We can offer either fixed rate fees or competitive hourly rates. In some cases insurance policies could cover the costs. Extra cost could be incurred if either transcripts have to be obtained from Court or a barristers advice is sought.
Legal Aid Appeal work
We do not undertake new appeal work under legal aid schemes.
Want to appeal? Olliers are specialist Criminal Appeal Lawyers (London & Manchester)
Contact us on 0161 8341515 or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Olliers Appeals team consists of highly specialised lawyers Toby Wilbraham, Zita Spencer, Matt Corn and Alex Preston who all have considerable experience of criminal appeal work
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