Should you appeal your Crown Court conviction?
You want to Appeal now! The worse has happened. You have fought your case. The jury have taken hours to reach a decision and your heart falls through the floor as the guilty verdict is announced. This happens every day in every criminal court in the country. Most solicitors tend not to refer to lost cases on their web sites, preferring to promote an image of unassailable success in every case. Your solicitor and barrister may have warned you that conviction was likely. They may have promised you will be found not guilty. It doesn’t matter you are now in the hands of the court for sentence. Emotions run rife as some defendants accept the verdict; others want to appeal immediately.
The best way to avoid having to appeal is to seek the very best representation you can find as this will reduce the likelihood of a wrongful conviction. Even if you intend to plead guilty a properly prepared plea in mitigation can ensure that the sentence imposed is the most lenient possible and that it falls within the sentencing guidelines as many of our reported cases show.
If you entered a Not Guilty plea in the Crown Court you can appeal against your conviction or your sentence, or both. To bring a successful appeal you will have to show that you have Grounds to Appeal such as:
- Something went wrong at your trial – for example an important court procedure wasn’t followed properly or there was an error of law in the summing up
- You have some new evidence – such as a witness coming to light or new evidence that wasn’t available at the original trial
You do not have an automatic right to appeal. You have to establish grounds and to do that effectively you will need advice from your legal team. If you were legally aided that advice should be given to you in writing in good time to lodge Grounds of Appeal before the 28 day time limit expires.
But what you want to know is: Should I appeal or not? Only appeal if you have strong grounds. Last year 1424 appeals against conviction were submitted and leave was granted for the case to be heard by the full court in just 245 cases. I do not have figures as to how many of these were successful but my experience tells me not more than half. It is therefore crucial that you receive good quality realistic advice from your legal team. Some representatives will advise that there are grounds of appeal where in fact the grounds are thin. They do this to keep the client on side, to excuse unfulfilled promises of acquittal and sometimes, dare I say, even out of irritation at losing a case they think they should have won.
Beware for there are dangers. If you have been sentenced to imprisonment the Court of Appeal has the power to extend your sentence by ordering that time spent waiting for the courts decision should not count towards your sentence. This sanction, which you might think adds insult to your injury, has not been enforced since 2007. However the volume of appeals and long waiting times for hearings has meant that things have changed. R v Crawford and others was handed down on 7th October 2014 the court ordered that the defendant was to serve an extra three months.
Moss & Co always give or obtain professional realistic well argued written advice on appeal.
Appeals in the Magistrates’ Court
If you are convicted or sentenced in the magistrates Court you have an automatic right of appeal to the Crown Court. All that has to be done is to complete a Notice of Appeal and serve it within the 21 day time limit . Appeals against conviction in the Magistrates Court are complete rehearings of the evidence. You will have the opportunity to prepare the appeal taking into account the way the case went when it was first tried. If you win your conviction will be quashed along with any sentence and you may be awarded your costs. On the other hand if you lose your appeal against conviction the Crown Court can resentence you and order costs against you.
For professional high quality representation in your case call our criminal law experts Jamie Rtchie, Keith Hollywood or Laura O’Brien on 020 8986 8336 there is no charge for an initial telephone assessment.