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Severity Appeals – Unhappy with the sentence you got in the Local Court? You can appeal

Severity Appeals

So, you got convicted. Or maybe, you got what you thought was way too many hours of community service. Or you lost your licence. Sometimes things don’t pan out the first time round – but, the good news is, you can appeal your sentence.

These sorts of appeals are often called ‘severity appeals’ ie – my sentence was too severe.

The appeal needs to be filed within 28 days of the date of your sentence in the Local Court, so its important to act quickly. You can ask for leave to appeal after this time frame – but there is a hard limit of three months.

Severity Appeals are heard in the District Court before a Judge. It’s a really good idea to get some legal advice if you are considering a Severity Appeal – particularly if you didn’t have a lawyer at the Local Court. Whilst similar to what happens in a Local Court sentence, the District Court is generally more formal, and a lawyer might be able to recommend alternative strategies to attempt to get you a better result.

The good thing about Severity Appeals is that you can present new material – so your lawyer might recommend additional material to prepare. In addition, you can give evidence (on oath from the witness box) in the District Court. This rarely happens in Local Court sentences and it is definitely much easier to do if you are assisted by a lawyer, who knows what questions to ask you.

The Judge won’t know what the Magistrate said to you at the Local Court, or what reasons they gave for their decision, but they will know what the penalty was that was imposed. This is important, because whilst you might think the sentence is too severe, the Judge might think it was too lenient. If the Judge thinks they actually would have given you a worse sentence, they are required to give you a ‘Parker Warning’. A Parker Warning is a warning from the Judge that they are considering increasing the severity of your sentence. Sometimes Judge’s are quite clear that they are doing this – other times, the warning can be easy to miss, if you don’t know what you are looking for. I have heard Judges say:

“I am considering a Parker Warning.”

Clear enough you might think.

How about: “I’m thinking of a word, and it begins with the letter P….”

Or: “I think this case is going backwards. Do you know what rekrap is backwards?” The answer, of course, is Parker.

If there is any ambiguity, your lawyer can ask the Judge directly if they are giving a warning, and if they are, your lawyer can withdraw the appeal and your sentence from the Local Court will remain as is.

If you would like advice on a sentence from the Local Court, and whether you have prospects of success at an Appeal, call Armstrong Legal on 1300 168 676

Image Credit – Javier Sanchez Mingorance ©

Written by Angela Cooney on August 1, 2019

Angela is able to assist clients with all criminal offences such as assaults, drug charges, traffic matters, theft, break and enters, firearms, sexual offences and apprehended violence orders. Angela is an experienced Court advocate having appeared in the Local and District Court, the Court of Criminal Appeal as well as in Federal jurisdictions in a multitude of matters, including complex strictly indictable trials. View Angela's profile

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