How do you appeal a criminal sentence?
Those who have been dealt with a sentence they believe is unfair or overly harsh for the crime committed may have the opportunity to appeal the court decision. A defendant may wish to appeal their sentence if they have sufficient grounds with a view to reduce or replace with a different sentence altogether.
When appealing a sentence, it is important you act fast and seek experienced legal representation to maximise your chances of success.
When can you appeal a sentence?
Defendants have the ability to appeal their sentence imposed to a higher court if they believe the judge responsible for their case failed to act properly in handing down the sentence. This means that a sentence imposed in the Magistrates Court, an appeal can be made to the District Court of Queensland, while a sentence imposed in the District Court of Queensland or Supreme Court of Queensland, an appeal would proceed to the Queensland Court of Appeal.
Some examples of appropriate grounds for appeal could include:
- Imposing a sentence above the maximum sentence for a crime
- Improperly including multiple counts in a single sentence
- Failing to allow in certain evidence
- Errors in applying legislation
- Improperly calculating a sentence
- Sentencing a defendant in a manner that is disproportionate and excessive to the crime
What are the requirements for an appeal?
Not all cases can be appealed. First, one must prove to the Appeal Court that the sentence imposed is significantly disproportionate to an appropriate penalty. You should seek legal advice on the grounds for appeal for your case might be, which clearly articulates why you believe the judge or jury made the wrong decision, or the trial was not conducted according to the law.
Additionally, there are very strict time limited on when an appeal can be made, so time is of the essence. The appeal must be filed within one calendar month from the date of the decision. If you are unable to submit your notice to appeal in this timeframe, you can also ask the court for an extension of time.
What happens after an appeal is made?
After you have lodged your notice of appeal, the Court of Appeal will examine your submission. They will look at the grounds of appeal and from there, have the authority to enforce a range of orders and directions such as:
- dismissing the appeal against conviction
- sending the matter back to the originating court for retrial
- quashing the conviction and directing a verdict of acquittal
- substituting a verdict of guilty for a different offence.
More information on sentencing appeals
If you have been convicted of a criminal offence, it’s important you seek legal advice promptly – better still, seek legal representation before your matter has been heard by the Court. Why? Because it is often easier to obtain the best results for your case the first time your matter is heard rather than later when appealing the decision.
Our team of qualified lawyers are highly experienced in criminal law and able to provide you with efficient and accurate advice to get the best possible outcome for your case.