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The criminal appeal system is currently being reviewed by the Law Commission of England and Wales. The Commission will examine whether reform is necessary.
Want to make an appeal?
If you want to appeal either your sentence or your conviction, please contact us at Ashmans Solicitors. We specialise in criminal defence law and can represent you throughout proceedings. We are available to take your call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
What will the review examine?
The government has requested a review to ensure the appeal system is effective, efficient and just. The Commission will look at all areas of criminal appeals in England and Wales, paying particular attention to the following:
The powers of the Court of Appeal
All criminal appeals in England and Wales go to the Court of Appeal. The Commission will investigate whether the court has sufficient powers to order a re-trial, substitute a conviction or sentence, and make directions regarding time spent in custody pending appeal.
The “safety test”
The safety test is the test used to determine whether an offender can appeal their conviction on the basis that the verdict is ‘unsafe’ (for example, because of an error in the law). The Commission will examine whether this test makes it difficult to correct any miscarriages of justice.
The test used by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC)
The CCRC is the body responsible for investigating potential miscarriages of justice. There is a test that determines when a case can be referred back to the Court of Appeal for further consideration. This test will also be examined by the Commission.
The Attorney General’s powers
The Attorney General in England and Wales is allowed to refer a case to the Court of Appeal, if they think the sentence is ‘unduly lenient’. The Commission will consider whether these powers are appropriate and sufficient.
In addition to these points, the Commission will also review various other issues, such as:
- The laws governing the retention and disclosure of evidence for a case
- Whether the Crown Court has adequate sentencing powers in a new trial that arises following an appeal
- Whether the Court of Appeal has appropriate powers to deal with appeals relating to findings on fitness to plead
- Whether the appeal laws need to be made clearer and more consistent
This list is not exhaustive.
What happens next?
The Law Commission will perform a comprehensive review, following which there will be a public consultation. The government will then consider the Commission’s recommendations and the feedback from the consultation. Any legal reforms will, therefore, be some time away
Want to make an appeal?
Do you want to appeal your conviction? Or do you think your sentence is unduly harsh? Contact us now for a free, confidential discussion. We are members of the Legal Aid scheme.
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