If you are convicted of an offence before a Magistrates Court and you do not accept the conviction or sentence, you have an automatic right of appeal to the Crown Court.
If you were convicted in your absence and you did not know of the proceedings or there was some other reason as to why you were unable to attend, we may be able to have your conviction and sentence cancelled before the Magistrates Court or your case re-opened.
We are often asked for assistance from clients who have either represented themselves before the court and have found the process difficult or alternatively they have received poor legal advice or representation.
If you are in this position or are unsure, please call us to discuss your options and we will give you an honest appraisal of your case and how we are able to help you.
Appeal against conviction and sentence:
If you pleaded not guilty in the magistrates’ court and you were convicted and sentenced following a trial, you may appeal against both conviction and sentence or simply the sentence.
This appeal is by way of a complete re-hearing of your case before the Crown Court, being composed of a single Judge and two lay magistrates (not the same magistrates who heard your original case).
If you appeal against conviction and sentence, and you are successful, the Crown Court will acquit you (find you not guilty) of the offence.
Appeal against sentence:
If you have entered a guilty plea before the magistrates’ court and are unhappy with the sentence which the court imposes, you cannot appeal your conviction, however you can appeal against the sentence imposed.
If you appeal against your sentence, the Crown Court can either lessen the penalty imposed, increase it (within the boundaries of the magistrates sentencing powers) or leave it unchanged.
By way of example, if you are accumulate 12 penalty points and the court turns down an application not to disqualify you on the grounds of “exceptional hardship”, you may appeal this decision to the Crown Court who will then decide whether you should be disqualifed.
If you have been disqualfied from driving and wish to appeal this decision to the Crown Court, the court can also be asked to suspend your disqualification pending the hearing of your appeal. If granted this means that you will be able to continue driving up to your appeal date when a final decision will be made.
Having a conviction and sentence set aside or cancelled in the magistrates court (Convicted in Absence):
If you have been convicted and sentenced in your absence and you knew nothing about the proceedings, you can swear a statutory declaration before us within 21 days of your discovery of the proceedings.
Once we have served this document on the court, your conviction and sentence will be cancelled. You may then at a later date be re-summonsed for the offence, however this will allow us to advise you on the case and either defend the case or seek a lesser penalty.
If you were aware of the proceedings, but for some reason you did not attend court for your hearing and were convicted in your absence, we can in some cases re-open your case before the court in the “interests of justice”. This allows you a “second bite at the cherry” and once your case is re-opened we can again either defend your case or seek a lesser penalty.