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If you are found guilty by the Crown Court, you can appeal your conviction by applying for permission to appeal. This must be done within 28 days of the verdict being passed. If permission is granted, your case will be heard at the Court of Appeal. The process is different if you were convicted by the Magistrates’ Court
Conviction appeal solicitors
Our criminal defence solicitors can advise whether there are grounds to appeal your conviction. If so, we can manage the appeal process on your behalf, working to get the conviction overturned. It does not matter if you previously instructed another firm of solicitors; we can take over the running of the appeal, applying our expertise to ensure a successful outcome. Contact us now to find out more. We can take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Can I appeal a criminal conviction?
When you are found guilty by a court, you are said to have been convicted. But just because a judge or jury has passed judgment, does not necessarily mean that it is the end of the matter. If you disagree with the decision, you can make an appeal.
However, you must have sufficient grounds for appeal. For example, it could be that the judge/magistrates made a mistake, improperly included/excluded certain evidence or that the trial was unfair. You are not allowed to make an appeal simply because you would prefer a not guilty verdict. There must be a valid reason for an appeal.
Our criminal defence solicitors can explain whether you are in a position to appeal a conviction when you contact us for free confidential legal advice.
How do I appeal a conviction?
The way in which you make an appeal depends on whether you were convicted by the Crown Court or the Magistrates’ Court.
How do I appeal against a Magistrates’ Court conviction?
If you are convicted by the Magistrates’ Court, you can make an appeal to the Crown Court. You have 21 days in which to do this, starting from the date the guilty verdict was passed. Your case will then be re-heard. This will take place in the Crown Court, although confusingly, you will not be put in front of a jury. Rather, your case will be heard by a judge and two magistrates, although they will be different from the ones who attended your original hearing.
What will happen at the hearing?
There will be a complete re-trial, during which all the evidence will be presented again. The witnesses will also be invited to speak for a second time. The judge and two magistrates will then decide what to do. They have two options available. Either they can allow your appeal, meaning that the verdict is changed to not guilty. Or they can dismiss your appeal, meaning the verdict remains the same. They can even increase your sentence if it is deemed appropriate, especially if they feel it was unduly lenient.
Do I need a solicitor to appeal a Magistrate’s Court conviction?
You must seek independent legal advice before you launch an appeal. Otherwise, you may inadvertently increase your sentence, even though you were only appealing the conviction.
If there are sufficient grounds for appeal, then the process is relatively straightforward. You do not need to ask for permission to appeal. Even so, we strongly recommend instructing a criminal defence solicitor. This gives your appeal the best chance of success.
How do I appeal against a Crown Court conviction?
Appealing against a Crown Court conviction is slightly more complicated than appealing against a Magistrates’ Court conviction. This is because you must seek permission to appeal. This must be done within 28 days of the guilty verdict being passed. You may be able to make an appeal even if you miss this deadline, although you will only be granted an extension of time if there is a good reason for the delay.
How do I get permission to make an appeal?
Your solicitor will complete an Application for Permission to Appeal and the Grounds for Appeal. These will be considered by a judge who will then decide whether to refuse or grant permission, also known as ‘leave’. This decision usually takes place behind closed doors. The judge will want to see that there are valid grounds for appeal. For example, it could be that:
- The original judge made an error of law
- There was an irregularity that compromised the fairness of the trial, such as jurors talking to witnesses
- Fresh evidence has come to light which could impact the verdict
Ultimately, the judge will only grant leave to appeal if the verdict is potentially ‘unsafe’. This is a legalistic way of saying that the verdict could possibly be wrong, meaning an appeal is necessary for the interests of justice.
What happens at the appeal?
If you are granted leave to appeal, your case will then go to the Court of Appeal. There will be a hearing presided over by at least three judges. Although it is not a trial, both you and the prosecution (now known as the Respondent) are invited to attend. Each side can make submissions to the court. The judges will deliberate on the grounds for appeal and decide on an outcome. One of four things will happen:
- The court will decide that the conviction is ‘safe’ and will dismiss your appeal – meaning you have lost
- The court will decide that the conviction is ‘unsafe’ and will quash your conviction – meaning you have won
- The court will order a re-trial
- The court will change the offence that you have been found guilty of – for example, if you were convicted of murder, the offence may be changed to manslaughter instead
Do I need a solicitor to appeal a Crown Court conviction?
Yes, it is highly recommended that you instruct a specialist criminal defence solicitor to represent you. A solicitor can determine the best grounds for appeal in your case and present your argument to a judge. Otherwise, you may not even be granted permission to make an appeal. If you fail, you can try again, although you may be penalised for a second failed attempt if you are found to be wasting the court’s time (known as ‘loss of time’). This could result in your sentence being extended, meaning you have to spend more time in custody.
Can I change my solicitor?
Yes, you can change your solicitor from the one you originally used for your Crown Court trial. You may have various reasons for wanting to change your solicitor, including a bad working relationship and a loss of confidence in your legal representative. You are entitled to choose your own solicitor, and this can mean using a different solicitor for your appeal if you wish.
However, there are some legal complexities involved in the sharing of privileged material. If this material is needed to prove your case, you must agree to a waiver of privilege. If you want to change your criminal defence solicitor and instruct us here at Ashmans, we can explain this in greater detail.
Are there time limits involved?
As mentioned above, you have just 21 days to appeal a Magistrates’ Court conviction and 28 days to appeal a Crown Court conviction. Delays are only permitted in certain circumstances. You, therefore, need to act quickly, or your right to appeal may be barred.
Criminal appeals solicitor London
If you have recently been found guilty and you want to appeal your conviction, contact us now at Ashmans Solicitors. We are specialist criminal defence lawyers and can handle every aspect of the appeals process. We will determine the best grounds for appeal in your particular case, apply for leave to appeal, and represent you in the Court of Appeal. We are experienced lawyers with a proven track record of success. You can rely on us to secure a positive outcome.
Contact us now
To speak to a criminal defence solicitor, call us now on 0333 009 6275. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.