Appeal Against Conviction
An appeal against conviction is not an appeal against the fact that a conviction was recorded against your name (that is a component of a sentence appeal). A conviction appeal is an appeal against a finding that you were guilty of an offence.
Appeals To The District Court
If you pled not guilty but were convicted in the Magistrates Court, you can generally appeal this decision in the District Court.
An appeal against conviction must be made in the District Court within 1 month of the decision. An appeal is made by filing a notice of appeal with the District Court registry or, if the appellant is in prison, with the general manager of that facility.
When considering an appeal against a Magistrate’s conviction, the District Court will determine the case afresh and sometimes it will hear new evidence (something a higher court, like the Court of Appeal, is generally not able to do).
Upon hearing an appeal against a Magistrate’s conviction, if you are successful the District Court has the power to reverse the Magistrate’s decision and order that you be acquitted of the charge.
Appeals To The Court Of Appeal
If you are convicted ‘on indictment’, which means in the District or Supreme Courts, you can appeal the decision to the Court of Appeal, the highest criminal court in Queensland.
An appeal to the Court of Appeal works differently to an appeal against a Magistrate’s decision in that you can only appeal against a conviction which you say is wrong as a matter of law. In these circumstances the Court of Appeal does not consider your case afresh, it considers the evidence as presented in your trial, and then determines whether the conviction was wrong at law.
You can, with the leave of the Court of Appeal, appeal against your conviction on other grounds, for example that the facts of the case against you were wrong, but this is often difficult to obtain this leave.
An appeal in the Court of Appeal, or an application for leave to appeal to that court, must be made within 1 month of the decision. Appeals are commenced by a notice of appeal being filed with the Court Registry or, if the appellant is in prison, with the general manager of that facility.
Upon hearing the conviction appeal, if you are successful the Court of Appeal has the power to quash your conviction and order that you be acquitted of the charge, or it can also quash your conviction and order that you be re-tried.
Should I Appeal My Conviction?
If you were convicted by a Magistrate, in particular if you did not have legal representation at your summary trial, it is likely to be worthwhile speaking with a lawyer about your prospects on an appeal against your conviction.
If you were convicted in the District or Supreme Courts, it is essential that you obtain competent legal advice about your prospects on an appeal against conviction. Because the Court of Appeal can only interfere with decisions involving an error of law, it is highly likely that complex legal argument will be required in order to persuade the Court that your conviction should be quashed. An application for leave to appeal on a different basis should also only be undertaken on advice from, and representation by, an experienced criminal lawyer.
WHERE TO NEXT?
If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.