Convicted Before a Magistrates’ Court – Can I Appeal?

A criminal conviction, even for a relatively minor offence, can have serious implications for your future. The good news is that if you are convicted in a Magistrates’ Court, you have an automatic right of appeal.

Magistrates Court sign

What are my options for an appeal?

You can appeal on the grounds that you believe your case was not prepared correctly, or that the court reached the wrong decision.

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. If you have already received a sentence and are considering an appeal, contact us immediately to discuss your case. If more than 21 days have passed, we can still advise on ‘out of time appeals’. In certain circumstances, an extension will be granted.

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

I pleaded guilty – can I still appeal?

You will certainly be able to appeal against your sentence – we can help you decide whether that is a good idea. You might be able to appeal against the conviction itself if you pleaded guilty, but only if your plea is ‘equivocal’. In this instance, there are two remedies that we can explore with you. Contact us to find out more about your options in this case.

Is sentence suspended pending an appeal?

Your sentence is not suspended pending appeal, although we can apply for bail if you are in custody. We can also apply for any driving disqualification to be suspended.

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

What happens at the appeal hearing?

A judge will sit with two magistrates to hear the case afresh. It is 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.

If I lose the appeal, what happens?

If that happens, you may be re-sentenced by the Crown Court, and be liable for additional 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 a 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.

Find out more about our criminal defence and advocacy services