Appeal from a Magistrates’ Court conviction
It is regrettable, but true, that many people being convicted in the Magistrates’ Courts – particularly where their case has been funded by legal aid or where they were unrepresented at Court, feel that the Court has arrived at the wrong decision.
A Magistrates’ Court conviction can have significant impacts on peoples’ lives. Often it can result in people losing their jobs and being unable to find new employment. There may be restrictions on overseas travel – even if ostensibly the actual offence was relatively trivial.
Is there a right of appeal?
You must act quickly. If you pleaded not guilty, but were convicted at trial, you do have a right to appeal. But you need to submit the appeal within 21 days from the date of sentencing. There is scope for appeals after this time limit – but it is much less straight forward.
You are entitled to appeal – but it is not without its risks. Firstly, you need to know that any sentence is not suspended in the meantime. So, for example, if you have received a Community Order, you will need to comply with the terms of order pending appeal.
What happens at the appeal hearing?
A Crown Court just will hear your case. It is treated as a new trial of the issues – but obviously, there is an opportunity to think what went wrong the first time around and to see if anything can be done to address any weaknesses in the initial case.
What have I got to lose by appealing?
If you lose, you will be re-sentenced and potentially receive a more severe sentence. You will also be ordered to pay the costs of the prosecution. It is important to understand that there are downsides of losing at the appeal stage and so it is not something to be taken lightly.
What if I pleaded “guilty”?
This is a complex area and you will need specialist advice. The answer isn’t quite “no” – but unsurprisingly, if you have pleaded guilty, the circumstances in which you can then claim you were wrongly convicted are pretty limited!
The important thing if you are considering appeal is to get the correct advice. Robert Normile is our national point of contact for appeal cases – and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 020 7388 8333