If you are accused of a criminal offence that you deny, but are found guilty at a trial in the Magistrates Court, it is understandable that you may want to challenge that decision. Appeals against conviction allow you to have another opportunity to defend yourself against the charges, and challenge the allegations.
While magistrates and District Judges always try to be fair to defendants and witnesses in criminal trials, the reality is that they are still human and can make mistakes. This is why the criminal justice system allows appeals against conviction to be heard.
Appeals against conviction from the Magistrates Court are heard by the Crown Court. However, this is not a trial before a jury. Instead, the appeal is heard by a Judge and two magistrates who were not involved in the original trial. Appeals against conviction work like a completely fresh trial, with witnesses having to attend to give evidence, so that the Court can consider whether they are sure of an appellant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
If the Court allows the appeal, the appellant’s earlier conviction is no longer valid. Any sentence that was imposed is removed, and any financial orders made after the original trial in the Magistrates Court are cancelled.
If the Court is still satisfied by the prosecution case and dismisses the appeal, you may be able to challenge the sentence that was originally imposed. This is discussed under Appeals Against Sentence from the Magistrates Court.
There are very strict rules relating to appeals against conviction, especially the time limits to inform the Court that you want to challenge the original conviction. You have to lodge a notice of appeal within 21 days of the date of sentence. If you do not send your appeal notice to the Court in this time, you may not be allowed to appeal.
It is important that if you are thinking about appealing a decision from the Magistrates Court, you have advice from an experienced, specialist criminal defence barrister or solicitor as soon as possible.
If you or someone you know have a question about appeals against conviction, contact us to see how we can help you.