Olliers consider frequently asked questions in relation to appealing a conviction from the Crown Court to the Court of Appeal
I was convicted by a jury – is there a right to appeal?
The right to appeal is not ‘automatic’ . If there are grounds of appeal you may apply to the Court of Appeal for permission or ‘leave’ to appeal. The application will first be considered by a single Judge. If that Judge grants permission, then the case will go before the full Court of Appeal comprising three senior Judges.
When will the Court of Appeal quash a conviction?
The Court of Appeal will only quash a conviction where that conviction was unsafe. An unsafe conviction could arise in a number of circumstances; these may include:
- Where fresh evidence casting doubt on the safety of the original conviction is obtained which was not available at the time of the original trial;
- Where there was a material irregularity in law or procedure during the original trial;
- Where there was material non-disclosure by the prosecution – holding back material that would have undermined the prosecution case or assisted the defence case at trial
- A mis-direction to the jury by the trial Judge
- An error in law by the trial Judge; e.g admitting evidence which should have been excluded
Unfortunately, if you simply disagree with the jury’s verdict or believe they got it wrong this is not a ground of appeal
How do I find out if I have grounds to appeal?
The advocate who represented you at trial will advise you after conviction whether there are any grounds of appeal. If the advice is positive he or she will draft a document entitled Advice and Grounds of Appeal which will be lodged with the Court of Appeal within 28 days.
How long do I have to appeal my conviction?
There are 28 days from the date of conviction in which to apply for permission to appeal. If the appeal is lodged after that time, you will need to ask permission to appeal out of time.
My barrister advises I have no appeal. Is that the end of it?
No. If the advocate who represented you at trial advises that there are no grounds, you can of course seek a second opinion. If you were legally aided at trial, that funding only covers the first barrister’s advice.
If the second opinion is a positive one, then the advocate who drafts the advice is obliged to contact the original advocate and solicitors before submitting grounds of appeal. Once submitted the grounds and application for permission goes to the single Judge.
What happens when my appeal goes to the single Judge?
The Judge (a High Court one) will decide on paper whether to grant permission to appeal to the full court or not. If he believes that the grounds of appeal are arguable he will permit you to proceed before the full court. Often at that stage legal aid will be granted for your barrister to attend the Court of Appeal and argue the case.
If the single Judge refuses permission to appeal, you may renew the application to the full court. Under these circumstances you will not be granted legal aid. However it is possible for the full court to grant permission to appeal at the renewed application stage. If it does then a hearing will be fixed for the full hearing.
What happens if the court grants me permission to appeal?
Your case would in these circumstances be heard before the full court of three very senior Judges where your Advocate would argue that the conviction was unsafe for the reasons set out in the grounds.
If the Court of Appeal allows the appeal and decides that the conviction was unsafe it will quash the conviction.
If my conviction is quashed by the Court of Appeal, is that the end of it?
Often the Court of Appeal will conclude that the original conviction was unsafe but order that a re-trial take place. However on some occasions it will be successfully argued that it would not be fair or in the public interest to pursue a re-trial.
Contact Olliers’ leading criminal appeals lawyers
Olliers have a team of specialist soldiers undertaking criminal appeals. For more information click here. We also have a number of videos explaining the appeals process in more details on our YouTube channel. Olliers do not undertake new appeal work on a legally aided basis however our team can provide you with a quotation for advice in relation to an appeal.
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