If you are found guilty of a summary offence, you might be able to appeal the decision. This is known as a summary conviction appeal.
Can I make a summary conviction appeal?
Summary offences are less serious offences, such as minor assaults and careless driving. If you are charged with a summary offence, a trial will be held before a judge in the Provincial Court. If the judge finds you guilty, you might want to consider a summary conviction appeal.
According to Canada’s Criminal Code, a summary conviction appeal must succeed if one of the following applies –
- The verdict is unreasonable or cannot be supported by the evidence
- There was an error of law
- There was a miscarriage of justice
A criminal defence lawyer can assess whether any of these apply to your case. If so, you can begin the process of a summary conviction appeal.
How does a summary conviction appeal work?
Firstly, your criminal defence lawyer needs to prepare an application. This includes a written document called a factum, setting out the grounds for your appeal. You can write this yourself, but you stand a better chance of success if you have an experienced lawyer on your side.
A summary conviction judge will then be asked to review your case. He/she must decide whether the trial judge could reasonably have reached the conclusion that you are guilty beyond doubt.
To do this, the summary conviction judge will look at all the evidence. This is not done to determine your guilt or innocence. Rather, it is to check that the trial judge’s findings are reasonable and can be supported by the facts. This appeal judge must also check there has not been an error of law or a miscarriage of justice.
An appeal is not a re-trial. The function of a summary conviction appeal is to verify whether or not the trial court acted properly. If the summary conviction judge finds nothing wrong, he/she cannot interfere. This means the appeal judge cannot substitute their own views for that of the trial judge.
What happens next?
If the appeal judge decides that the trial judge acted reasonably, your summary conviction will be upheld. However, if mistakes were made, the appeal judge will likely set aside the conviction.
Contact an experienced Criminal Lawyer in Vancouver
Have you been convicted of a summary offence? If so, speak to the Vancouver criminal lawyers at Mickelson & Whysall. We can explain whether you have grounds to pursue a summary conviction appeal.