Appealing a Court Sentence
Making an appeal refers to making an application to a higher court in order to reverse the decision of a lower court.
If you plead not guilty to a criminal charge and are found guilty in the Local Court after you have defended the matter in court, you have a legal right of appeal against the guilty verdict to the District Court of New South Wales. You may also appeal against a sentence if you consider the sentence imposed by the court to be too harsh. This right exists if you have pleaded guilty or pleaded not guilty and have been found guilty. This is generally called a severity or sentence appeal.
If you think you have had a harsh or unfair sentence imposed on you, or have been found guilty of an offence for which you think you should have been found not guilty, George Sten & Co are the right lawyers to make an appeal and argue you for you in court.
Once a magistrate has finalised the sentencing proceedings and you wish to make an appeal, this is done by attending the Local Court registry and lodging the Notice of Appeal to the District Court.
In a conviction appeal, a listing date for the appeal will be allocated. The first listing is generally before a Registrar of the District Court and the matter can be listed for hearing before a judge.
A District Court judge will review all of the evidence that was relied on in the Local Court hearing to make a decision as to whether the prosecution has proved the case.
Lodging an Appeal
If a magistrate finds you guilty, you have 28 days to lodge an appeal. If the sentence proceedings are not finalised until a later date, you have 28 days from that date to lodge an appeal against the finding. You may also make an application for leave to appeal within 3 months of the date of the Local Court proceedings being finalised.
If 3 months lapses following the finalisation of Local Court proceedings, you will not be able to make an appeal to the District Court no matter how strong the grounds of appeal are. It may be possible however to seek Supreme Court review of the Local Court decision.
When lodging a conviction appeal, there will be a filing fee of $111.00 or if you are appealing multiple charges then the fee will be $171.00.
It is possible to appeal both the finding of a court and the severity of the sentence imposed by the court. This is known as an 'all grounds appeal'. In this case the filing fee only needs to be paid once despite there being technically two appeals.
Applying For Bail where Full Time Custodial Sentence Imposed
If you are sentenced to full-time imprisonment in the Local Court, an application for bail can be made as soon as an appeal has been lodged in the Registry. If this appeal bail is refused in the Local Court, an application may be made in the District Court.
For less harsh penalties including fines, good behaviour bonds and community service orders, if an appeal is lodged, the sentence is 'stayed' or halted until the appeal is determined.
Can I drive if I have appealed my driving offence sentence?
If you have been found guilty of a traffic offence and the court disqualifies your licence and you appeal this sentence, it may be unclear as to whether you are allowed to drive until the appeal has been determined. This will depend on whether the police have suspended your licence. Generally, if you have been charged with a low, novice or special range 'prescribed concentration of alcohol' or PCA offence, you will not have your licence immediately suspended by the police. In this case, once you have lodged an appeal and obtained your licence back from the RMS, you may drive pending the outcome of the appeal.
If you have been found guilty of a mid or high range PCA offence, generally the police will suspend your licence. This means that, generally, you will not be able to drive if you have lodged an appeal in the District Court at least until the appeal is determined.
Appealing the decision of a court can be complex and it is essential to be prepared to argue the case properly in court. If you have been found guilty of an offence, which you believe is not the right outcome, or have had a sentence imposed on you, which you believe is too harsh, call George Sten & Co Lawyers to speak with an expert about making an appeal. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and can be contacted on (02) 9261 8640 during business hours or 0412 423 569 outside of business hours. We may also be contacted via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.