If you have been found guilty of a criminal offence, you might want to appeal your conviction. You can do this if errors were made during your trial.
What is a conviction appeal?
When you are found guilty of a criminal offence, you are ‘convicted’. When this happens, it is not necessarily the end of the road – you may have the option of making a conviction appeal.
If you pursue a conviction appeal, you are arguing that mistakes were made during court proceedings. You are also arguing that had these mistakes not occurred, the verdict could have been different.
Therefore, a conviction appeal is not a re-trial, although it may eventually lead to a re-trial later down the line. Rather, an appeal court is there to decide whether there was a miscarriage of justice or an error of law.
Who can make a conviction appeal?
A conviction appeal is not open to everyone. You may be unhappy about being found guilty, yet that is not a sufficient reason to appeal the decision. Instead, you must demonstrate that some palpable and overriding error took place.
Reasons for appealing your conviction
There are numerous ways in which a conviction appeal might arise, including –
- The trial judge applied the law incorrectly during your case
- Evidence was used which should have been excluded
- The evidence did not prove your guilt beyond reasonable doubt
- The judge made a mistake when giving directions to the jury
- A member of the jury was biased
It can be difficult to know whether you are entitled to make a conviction appeal. Such appeals hinge on very complex details of law. That is why you should get expert legal advice shortly after being found guilty.
How to make a conviction appeal
Early advice is essential because you have just 30 days to file a
Notice of Appeal at the appeal court. This starts from the date of your conviction. The court must then prepare various documents, including transcripts of your trial. This can take many months.
Meanwhile, you should prepare your factum. This is a written document outlining the reasons for your appeal. Once your factum has been filed, the Crown will review it and file their own factum. A date is then set for a court hearing.
At the hearing, each side has the opportunity to put forward their argument. However, it is not like a trial where witnesses are called. The appeal court will then make its decision. Your appeal will succeed if court is of the opinion that –
(i) the verdict should be set aside on the ground that it is unreasonable or cannot be supported by the evidence
(ii) the judgment of the trial court should be set aside on the ground of a wrong decision on a question of law, or,
(iii) on any ground there was a miscarriage of justice
What happens if the appeal succeeds?
If your appeal is successful, there are a number of possible outcomes. Typically, the appeal court orders a re-trial. If there is no evidence to prove your guilt, the verdict may be changed to not guilty.
Contact an experienced Criminal Lawyer
To get your conviction overturned, contact us now at Mickelson & Whysall. We can advise whether you have grounds to pursue a conviction appeal. If so, we can manage everything for you. This includes filing a Notice of Appeal, preparing a legally watertight factum and arguing your case in court.