An appeal to the Court of Appeal against a Crown Court sentence
It is possible to appeal against a Crown Court sentence to the Court of Appeal. The appeal process can be complicated depending on the individual case, so this article can only ever outline the basics of the appeal process.
You should know the range of sentences likely in your case
In cases that we deal with on behalf of clients facing Crown Court proceedings we will have ensured that all of our clients are given an early indication of the likely sentence range. This advice will include the potential sentence depending on whether there is a guilty plea or conviction after trial.
In some cases we will be able to be relatively precise as to what might be expected. In others cases, however, the range can be quite broad. In some rare cases it can be ‘anyone’s guess’ only because the case is so unique. Generally speaking, mainly where there are sentencing guidelines in place, we are very good at preparing our clients for the likely outcome.
Unfortunately, things do not always go to plan. For example, evidence may change during the case making it a lot more serious than originally thought. Of course, some clients receive the benefit of the evidence changing in a way that favours them. Sometimes the Judge may take a different view of the case, or, and this happens despite what appear to be clear sentencing guidelines, the Judge falls into error and makes a mistake when sentencing.
First steps in an appeal against a sentence
In all cases, following sentence, there should be clear advice on appeal. This will normally be given verbally, but you can have it in writing if you request that. In more complex cases it is usual for the advocate to set out in writing why an appeal is or is not appropriate.
If your Crown Court advocate is able to provide a positive advice on appeal, then you will have the opportunity to discuss that with us. We will hen take the necessary next steps on your behalf.
In cases where an appeal is not thought to be viable, again we will provide full advice to ensure that you understand the reasons for this decision.
What are the grounds for appeal against a Crown Court sentence?
There are, perhaps surprisingly, thirteen distinct grounds for appeal. They break down conveniently into two broad labels. For the Court of Appeal to intervene the Crown Court sentence must be either
- Wrong in principle; or,
- Manifestly excessive
All appeals are considered initially by a Single Judge. They will decide whether the case appears to have merit or not. If that Judge refuses leave to appeal on the basis that they believe the case is not properly arguable we will discuss the next steps with you.
If I am told not to appeal against a Crown Court sentence, can I ignore that advice?
A person can chose to ignore the advice received. Any such decision should be discussed with us in advance because there are risks in proceeding with an appeal that is without merit.
The Court of Appeal can impose costs. In some cases it will also make a ‘loss of time direction’. This means that a release from prison at the end of any sentence will be delayed. This is delay is often in the region of 14 to 42 days.
How long will the appeal take?
The length of time will depend on the complexity of the case and the listing requirements of the court. Priority is also likely to be given to those facing shorter sentences that can be successfully appealed. In some cases where a person has received a short prison sentence, there is a procedure to expedite an appeal. In some cases, these can be heard within a few days.
Aside from such cases, appeals against a Crown Court sentence will be typically heard within six months of being lodged with the court.
Can I get bail pending an appeal against a Crown Court Sentence?
Bail is seldom granted in cases before the Court of Appeal. The usual remedy to any injustice is for the Court to expedite the appeal hearing in cases where this approach is merited.
Where will the appeal be heard?
Most appeals are held at the Court of Appeal in London, although occasionally the court sits at regional Crown Court centres. If you are in custody, you will typically be present via video-link, or if on bail you can attend the hearing in person.
Court of Appeal judges will hear the case, and you will be represented by an advocate at the hearing. In some cases, the prosecution is also present, but not always.
When will I find out the result of my appeal?
In most cases, the result is announced at the end of the hearing. If complex issues are involved, then the decision might take a few weeks longer.
If I wasn’t represented by VHS Fletchers can you advise on appeal?
The simple answer is ‘Yes’. We would be happy to discuss your case. In some cases, legal aid will be available for the provision of this advice. This will be subject to a means and merits test.
Contact a Criminal Law Specialist
Alternatively, use the contact form below.