Criminal Appeals


Appeals from the Magistrates' Court

Defendants can follow two appeal routes depending on the reasons for the appeal.

1. If they wish to appeal against a conviction or sentence then they go to the Crown Court. This automatic right of appeal is only open to the defence. 

2. If they wish to appeal by case stated, appealing against a possible misapplication of law then they must go to the Divisional Court of the Queen's Bench Division in the High Court. The defence can use this route to appeal against a conviction while the prosecution can appeal against an acquittal. 

3. A further appeal route is available from the High court to the Supreme Court, however, this only happens in matters of public importance. 

In the Case of C v DPP 1994, it was appealed to the Supreme Court to request a change in law since the QBD of the High Court believed that children between the ages of 10-14 could have criminal responsibility.

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Appeals from the Crown Court

By the defence: 

1. The most common route of appeal is from the Crown Court to the Court of Appeal and it is used by the defence against a conviction or sentence. Under the Criminal Appeals Act 1995, a defendant must receive leave to appeal from the Court of Appeal once they submit their request within 28 days of their conviction. 

By the prosecution: 

The prosecution can appeal against acquittal although this is rare. Permission from the Attorney general must be given, but the can refer a point of law to the Court of Appeal (s36 Criminal Justice Act 1972)  and they can apply for leave against an unduly lenient sentence. 

2. The route of appeal from Crown Court to Supreme Court is very rare and should only happen when legal points of general public importance are involved in the case. 

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Appeals to superior courts

The prosecution and defence both have a right to appeal from the Court of Appeal to the Supreme Court but it is necessary for the case to be certified as a matter of public importance. It is unlikely though for a case to be given leave to appeal this far up the court hierarchy. 

The European Court of Justice is the final court in which UK courts can appeal to but only in circumstances where clarification over an EU point of law is needed or an issue regarding human rights is present. It is often for cases to reach the ECJ when Article 6 ECHR has been violated. 

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