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Appeals against conviction or acquittal usually relate to errors in law in the conduct of the trial. Appeals against sentence usually relate to the sentence either being too harsh or manifestly inadequate, depending upon who is initiating the appeal.

Either the offender, the Crown (through the Director of Public Prosecutions) or the Attorney General can initiate an appeal. Appeals are heard in the Court of Criminal Appeal, a court with three Supreme Court justices.

The family, partner or friends of the victim do not have the right to appeal against a conviction or sentence.

An appeal must be brought within 21 days of the conviction or sentence.

The offender has a right of appeal if the grounds of the appeal relate to:

  • conviction
  • sentence.

The State or Crown can appeal:

  • against the sentence
  • against an acquittal - but only if the sentence is grossly inadequate and only if the offender was  acquitted by a magistrate or judge sitting alone. It cannot appeal against an acquittal by a jury.

'Double jeopardy' stops someone being tried twice for the same offence.

If an appeal is lodged, the party bringing the appeal is called the appellant and the person/party against whom the appeal is brought is called the respondent.

If an (offender) appellant is successful and the appeal is upheld against:

  • the conviction - the conviction will be quashed and an acquittal entered or a retrial ordered
  • the sentence - the court may reduce the sentence.

Family and friends who have concerns about their safety and protection, need to be aware that an appeal which is upheld may lead to the immediate release of the accused, either because the  conviction is set aside, or the sentence is reduced and the accused has already served the new period of imprisonment.

Where an appellant is unsuccessful, the appeal will be dismissed. This means that the result of the trial or sentencing remains the same.

Last updated: 12-Apr-2019

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