Convicted in the Magistrates' Court - Can I Appeal?

Many people convicted before magistrates feel mistreated at the outcome, and wish to consider an appeal.

A complaint may arise because you think that your case was not prepared correctly, or that the court reached the wrong result.

For many people, a conviction could be a major barrier to employment or travel overseas, even where the offence itself is relatively minor, so ensuring that you receive proper justice is extremely important.

The court process is not perfect. If you have a grievance, it is only right that you consider your options and one of those options is to appeal to the Crown Court.

How do I appeal to the Crown Court?

The first thing to remember is that you must act quickly as you only have 21 days from the date of sentencing to appeal your conviction - you should not delay in contacting us.

If more than 21 days have passed, then get in touch as soon as possible as we can advise on appealing a conviction out of time.

When you contact us, we will also be able to consider whether other avenues of appeal, namely judicial review and appeal by way of case stated (both to the High Court) are more suitable.

I pleaded guilty, can I still appeal?

You might be able to appeal against 'conviction' if you pleaded guilty, but only if your plea is 'equivocal'. An equivocal plea is one where a guilty plea is entered but where a “but” follows. For example, “I plead guilty to fraud but didn’t act dishonestly”, “I’m guilty of assault but acting in self defence” or “I plead guilty but didn’t do it”. In these cases, there are other possible remedies that we can explore with you.

Do I need permission to appeal?

An appeal against conviction from the magistrates' court to the crown court is 'an appeal as of right', which means that you do not need any permission to appeal and in effect, you are entitled to '2 bites of the cherry' although there are some other issues, such as sentence and costs (see below) that you must take into account before you make a decision to appeal.

Is sentence suspended pending an appeal?

Sentences are not suspended pending appeal, although:

  • We can make an application for bail if you are in custody, and;
  • Apply for any disqualification from driving to be suspended pending the outcome of the appeal.

If you have been made subject to a community order, the requirements will need to be complied with, although we will take steps to try and expedite the hearing.

What happens at the appeal hearing?

The crown court, presided over by a Judge and Lay Magistrates (not a jury), hears the case again and we have a valuable opportunity to review what might have gone wrong at the first trial and take steps to remedy any failures.

We can also examine what other evidence ought to the gathered on your behalf, or what lines of attack we might usefully deploy against the prosecution case.

What happens if I lose the appeal?

If that happens, you will be re-sentenced by the crown court, and be liable for prosecution costs. We will discuss the costs implications with you in detail before any decision to appeal is made.

It is important to note that the crown court is not restricted to the same sentence imposed by the magistrates' court, so, you may receive a higher penalty.

This is one of the risks that you need to balance - and one of the reasons why we will at an early stage examine the other avenues of appeal with you (judicial review and case stated).

Can I get legal aid?

Many people are eligible for legal aid, and we can direct you to a legal aid provider if you wish. However, the legal aid fee is so low that it is not an option we offer, but can offer fixed fee arrangements and if you are successful in your appeal, an application can be made for a defence cost order meaning that some of your costs may be refunded.

For more information, please contact us using the form on the left or call us on 0161 827 9500