4 - My rights after the trial

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Can I appeal?

You have the right to appeal against your conviction and/or against the sentence. If you pleaded not guilty in the Magistrates’ Court you can appeal to the County Court against conviction and/or sentence.

If you pleaded guilty in the Magistrates’ Court you can appeal against sentence before the County Court, or if you are claiming that the District Judge misinterpreted the law, you can challenge the decision in the Court of Appeal.

If your trial took place in the Crown Court you can appeal to the Court of Appeal.

What are the time limits for appealing?

If you are appealing against conviction or sentence from a Magistrates' Court then you or your lawyer must make the necessary application to the Magistrates' Court within 14 days, starting on the date of the decision you are appealing.

If you are appealing against conviction from the Crown Court then you can appeal either with permission of the Court of Appeal or if permission is given by the Crown Court Judge within 28 days of your conviction. You must seek the permission of the Court of Appeal if you want to appeal against a sentence from the Crown Court 28 days from when sentenced was passed.

How do I appeal?

If you are appealing from the Magistrates' Court then a notice of appeal must be lodged with the court office within 14 days of the decision being challenged. If you are appealing from the Crown Court to the Court of Appeal then you must make the application stating the grounds for appeal to the Court of Appeal office within 28 days of conviction or sentence, whichever you are appealing. Your lawyer will explain these procedures in detail.

What are the grounds for appeal?

There are many grounds on which you can appeal. Examples of grounds for appealing against conviction:

  • the judge gave wrong instructions to the jury;
  • there was a mistake or irregularity in the trial procedure;
  • evidence was wrongly allowed, or disallowed, to be heard.

Grounds of appeal against sentence are, typically, that the sentence was wrong in principle or that the length of sentence was manifestly excessive.

What happens if I am in prison when I appeal?

Following conviction and sentencing in a Magistrates’ Court your lawyer can apply for an appeal and ask the court to release you on bail pending appeal. It is not normal practice to release offenders from prison pending an appeal from the Crown Court and an application would have to be made to the Court of Appeal.

How long will it be before the appeal is heard?

There is no set time limit. If you are appealing from the Magistrates' Court the appeal may possibly be heard at the next sitting of the County Court after the expiration of seven days from the day on which the notice of appeal is given to the court office. An appeal to the Court of Appeal generally takes longer to get to hearing. Your lawyer will advise you on when your appeal is likely to be heard.

What happens at the appeal hearing?

If the appeal is against conviction in the Magistrates’ Court the whole case will be reheard by a County Court judge. If the appeal is just against the sentence of the Magistrates’ Court, a County Court judge will consider the matter afresh. The judge might reduce the sentence, confirm it or increase it. If you challenge the District Judge’s interpretation of the law in the Court of Appeal and that Court decides the Judge was wrong the verdict will be overturned.

An appeal against a conviction in the Crown Court will be heard in the Court of Appeal. Your lawyer and the prosecutor will present arguments about the merits of your grounds of appeal. The Court can hear fresh evidence if it wishes to. Generally, however, you cannot call evidence that was available at the time of the trial which you decided not to use at trial. All appeals will be in public.

What happens if the appeal against conviction is successful?

If the appeal is successful, your conviction will no longer stand. The appeal court also has power to substitute a conviction for a less serious offence. In some circumstances the court may set aside the conviction but give the prosecutor permission to start a new trial against you.

What happens if the appeal against sentence is successful?

If the appeal is successful the court will substitute a new sentence which it considers appropriate.

Is there a right to appeal again to a higher/different court?

If your appeal was to the County Court to challenge the Magistrates’ Court decision, you can make a further appeal purely on a point of law to the Court of Appeal in Northern Ireland. A subsequent appeal to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom is also possible where there is a point of law of general public importance in the case. An appeal on that basis is also possible where your appeal was from the Crown Court and was heard by the Court of Appeal.

Are there any other ways for me to make an appeal?

If you have exhausted your avenues of appeal but think that you have been the victim of a miscarriage of justice, you can apply to the Link opens in new windowCriminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) which can refer cases back to the Court of Appeal. In cases where there is an issue of whether your rights under the European Convention on Human Rights have been infringed, you can petition the Court at Strasbourg after you have exhausted your domestic remedies.

If I am convicted or acquitted, can I be tried again for the same crime?

If you have been convicted or acquitted of a crime after a trial in any part of the United Kingdom, you cannot generally be tried again in Northern Ireland for the same crime. An exception to this rule is that in rare circumstances a person can be retried for certain serious offences where new and compelling evidence has come to light.

I am from another Member State. Can I be sent back there after the trial?

If you are not a British Citizen and are convicted of an offence and sentenced to prison for 12 months or more or sentenced for certain serious offences, the Secretary of State will order deportation at the end of your sentence unless exceptional circumstances apply.

In any other case where prison is a possible sentence, if you are over 17 and are convicted, the judge may recommend in sentencing you that you should be deported when the sentence is served, whether you are sent to prison or not. The Secretary of State will make the final decision.

There is no opportunity for you to appeal within the immigration system against the recommendation; it is part of the criminal sentence and can only be appealed under the process for appealing a sentence as described above. The Secretary of State may also deport you, even if a court has not recommended it, if he thinks it is in the public interest.

Related links

Link opens in new windowNorthern Ireland Court Service

Link opens in new windowCitizens Advice Bureau, Northern Ireland

Link opens in new windowCriminal Cases Review Commission

Link opens in new windowSupreme Court of the United Kingdom

Link opens in new windowMagistrates' Court (Northern Ireland) Order 1981

Link opens in new windowCriminal Appeal (Northern Ireland) Act 1980

Link opens in new windowCounty Courts (Northern Ireland) Order 1980

Link opens in new windowCriminal Appeal Act 1995

Link opens in new windowHuman Rights Act 1998

Link opens in new windowCriminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008

Link opens in new windowImmigration Act 1971

Link opens in new windowUK Borders Act 2007


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Last update: 25/02/2019