Appealing a Criminal Conviction – What You Can Do

"To win an appeal, you must show that the magistrate, judge or jury made a mistake that affected the outcome of your case."

If you believe you were unfairly sentenced or convicted of a criminal offence, you have the option of appealing the decision. Appealing a criminal conviction is a complex process, so we’ve outlined the essential things you need to know before making this decision.


What You Can Appeal

If you plead guilty to a criminal offence, you can only appeal your sentence. However, if you plead not guilty and were convicted, you can appeal against the conviction, sentence, or both.  In order to win an appeal, you must show that the magistrate, judge or jury made a mistake that affected the outcome of your case. Therefore, an appeal is not a re-trial or re-sentence. The court will usually only hear arguments about evidence given at the original trial.


How to Appeal a Verdict

You have one month from the date of your conviction or sentence to appeal. Since it can be months before your appeal is heard, you may be able to apply for bail if you’re being held in custody. Appeals processes differ based on the offence and the original court where your case was heard. These documents by the Queensland courts outline the process in great detail:


Can Anyone Appeal a Verdict?

In civil cases, any party can appeal a verdict. The Court will also occasionally allow appeals from people who should have been parties in the original case, or people who were greatly affected by the outcome of the verdict. However, in criminal cases, only the defendant and the Crown can appeal. This means that victims of crime, or family and friends of the accused cannot appeal a verdict.


Court of Appeals

In Queensland, the Court of Appeal is a division of the Supreme Court. It hears all appeals from the Supreme and District courts, including multiple tribunals. The Court of Appeals doesn’t hear entire cases, nor does it have a jury. Hence, it only ever deals with the subject of the appeal. A judge will listen to arguments by each opposing side to determine whether an error of law was made, or a crucial fact was overlooked during the original hearing.


Representing Yourself

You can represent yourself in the Court of Appeal, but it is recommended to first consult with a lawyer about whether you have grounds to appeal. It is also worth being aware that there are legitimate risks involved in appealing a court decision. If your appeal is unsuccessful, the court may decide to increase your sentence. This is why the vast majority of legal resources will strongly advise seeking assistance from a criminal lawyer.


Appealing a Conviction? Our Criminal Lawyers Can Help

If you want to appeal a criminal charge, employing an expert lawyer who understands the complexities of appeals will help you immensely. Guest Lawyers offer initial consultations (including in prisons) to assist with a number of assault charges. Please get in touch with our lawyers either via Guest Lawyers’ email or by calling (07) 3211 3007. Our team of Brisbane criminal lawyers are licensed to practice throughout Australia.