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Appeals from the Magistrates court

You have a right of appeal from the Magistrates' or Youth Court to the Crown Court. If you pleaded guilty you have a right of appeal against sentence only, and if you have pleaded not guilty, you have a right of appeal against both conviction and sentence.

Notice of appeal must be given to the court and to the prosecutor within 21 days of the conclusion of your case. You can apply for Representation for the appeal.

These appeals are complete rehearings of your case in the Crown Court but before a judge and two magistrates. There is no jury. If your appeal is against conviction, the evidence will be heard afresh and the court will reach its own conclusion, by a majority if divided.

If your appeal against conviction fails, or if your appeal is against sentence only, the court will then review the sentence passed and can substitute any sentence the original court could have passed, up to the maximum sentence available to that court. This means there is a possibility that your sentence could be increased. An additional risk is that you might be ordered to pay the costs of an unsuccessful appeal.

The decision of the Crown Court on appeal is final, and there is only one, relatively unusual, situation in which you can pursue your case further.

Appeals to the High Court

Where you consider that either the Magistrates' Court or Youth Court, or the Crown Court when hearing your appeal, have made an error of law, acted in excess of their jurisdiction or failed to exercise their jurisdiction in deciding your case, you can appeal on a point of law to the Divisional Court of the High Court. This is done by way of asking the lower court to 'state a case' for the Divisional Court's consideration.

These proceedings are available to both the prosecution and the defence. The procedure is complex, and you will need the help of a lawyer. Criminal Representation Orders are now available. You cannot challenge decisions of fact in this way, but only raise questions of law.

Should you succeed in the Divisional Court your case is likely to be sent back to the lower court with directions for its reconsideration.

A similar procedure, but one which is available before your case has been concluded, is to apply for Judicial Review of the lower court’s decision in the High Court. For example, a decision by the Youth Court to refuse jurisdiction and send a case to the Crown Court can only be challenged in this way. However, no criminal Representation Order is available, and you will have to apply to the Community Legal Service for means-tested funding.
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