If you are convicted of an offence, you may have the right to take your case to a higher court. If you are unhappy with a conviction or punishment imposed by a Queensland court, you can ask to have the court’s decision reviewed by a higher court. That review process is called an appeal.
This article will help you understand what an appeal can and cannot do. If you are wondering whether you should appeal your conviction or sentence, consult a lawyer to obtain specific legal advice about your case.
An appeal is a review of the decision made by a lower court to determine whether that decision was legally correct. Mistakes that the court made (for example, by misapplying the law or instructing a jury incorrectly) can be raised on appeal.
An appeal is based on the record that was made in the lower court. It is not a new trial. No jury is involved. Arguments are presented in writing to the reviewing court followed by oral arguments made by lawyers on both sides of the case.
Facts that were determined to be true by a judge or jury will not ordinarily be reconsidered or second-guessed on appeal. Legal issues, rather than factual disputes, are resolved on appeal.
In most cases, an appeal cannot be based on new facts. There may nevertheless be procedures you can follow to ask the court that originally heard your case to consider new evidence. If you discover new facts that call your conviction into question, you should ask a lawyer whether those facts might be used to obtain a new trial.
Decisions of the Magistrate’s Court can be appealed to the District Court. If your conviction occurred in the District Court or in the Supreme Court, an appeal can be taken to the Court of Appeal. A panel of three judges will hear and decide the appeal.
If you were found guilty after a trial, you have the right to appeal your conviction. If you entered a guilty plea, you can only appeal the sentence that was imposed. You must ask the Court of Appeals for leave to appeal the sentence.
Unless you are able to obtain an extension, you have one month from the entry of your conviction to begin an appeal.
In some cases, your conviction will be thrown out and the case will be dismissed. More often, you will be granted the right to a new trial or to a new sentencing hearing.