Appeals

The appeal system is a crucial aspect of our criminal justice system. In basic terms it is a process whereby the decision of one court can be reviewed by a higher court. The process ensures that errors can be corrected, and in some cases evidence that was not called in original proceedings can be presented. It also gives accused persons avenues for review where they have received bad legal advice, or have plead guilty under some misapprehension or due to external pressure. 

There is a hierarchy of courts in our system. Appeals from the Local Court are usually heard in the District Court, appeals from the District Court are determined in the Supreme Court or Court of Criminal Appeal, and appeals from there are generally heard in the High Court of Australia. While there is an automatic right of appeal from the Local Court, appeals from the higher courts are subject to various tests before they can proceed. Appealing decisions of the District Court and other higher courts is a very involved and typically costly exercise. Due to the complexity of such appeals it is difficult to give general advice. Accordingly, this page only deals with appeals from the lower courts.

SEVERITY APPEALS

If you receive a sentence in the Local Court which you think is too severe, you can appeal to the District Court and attempt to have it reduced. Ordinarily an appeal must be lodged within 28 days of receiving a sentence, however the District Court can grant leave to appeal for up to 3 months. A severity appeal will be determined largely on the same material that was available to the Local Court, however further evidence can be presented in certain circumstances. This might be additional evidence in relation to issues such as your rehabilitation, employment or mental health.
 

After considering all of the evidence and arguments from both your lawyer and the prosecution, the District Court has to make one of the following orders:
 

  • Uphold the appeal and reduce the sentence

  • Dismiss the appeal and make no changes to the sentence
     

Christian has appeared in many severity appeals both as a defence lawyer and more recently as a prosecutor with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. For candid and sound advice regarding your prospects of success, call Christian for a free consultation.

CONVICTION APPEALS

If you have been convicted of a crime in the Local Court you have the right to appeal the finding to the District Court. When considering a conviction appeal the District Court will ordinarily only consider the evidence that was given in the Local Court. Accordingly, the complexity and length of an appeal will be determined by how complex and long the matter was in the Local Court. As with a severity appeal, a conviction appeal must be lodged within 28 days, unless the District Court gives leave to appeal. A conviction appeal cannot be heard if it is not lodged within 3 months of the date of conviction.

 

After considering all of the evidence and arguments from both your lawyer and the prosecution, the District Court has to make one of the following orders

 

  • Uphold the conviction and dismiss the charges

  • Dismiss the appeal and make no changes to the Local Court conviction
     

Christian has appeared in many complex and long conviction appeals both as a defence lawyer and more recently as a prosecutor with the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. With a wealth of experience Christian can provide you candid and sound advice regarding your prospects of success. If a decision is made to proceed with an appeal Christian will utilise his wealth of experience to strategise and present powerful submissions to the Court in your defence.

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