An appeal is when the court is asked to reconsider a guilty decision or the penalty that was given in a criminal court case.
Victims and witnesses who need to give evidence will be told if an appeal is made. You will receive a summons or subpoena.
At the end of a criminal court case, the court will decide:
- whether the accused person is guilty or not guilty.
- the penalty (or sentence) if the accused person is found guilty.
It is important to understand that if the accused person is found guilty, this is not always the end of the justice process. There can be an appeal.
An appeal is when the court is asked to reconsider a guilty decision or the penalty that was given.
An appeal by the offender
If an accused person is found guilty, they are then called the offender.
The offender can appeal:
- the verdict (being found guilty)
- the penalty or sentence they were given.
Generally, the offender has 28 days from the date they were given the sentence to make an appeal. Sometimes they may have extra time if there are special circumstances.
An appeal by police or the Office of Public Prosecutions
The police or the Office of Public Prosecutions can appeal if they think:
- the penalty was too low for the crime
- the penalty was not legally correct.
What happens in an appeal?
The appeal happens in a higher level of court than the decision was made in.
In some cases, the offender may apply for bail. If this is granted, they will be released from prison until the appeal is heard.
What does an appeal mean for victims and witnesses?
If a case is appealed the Office of Public Prosecutions or the police officer in charge of prosecuting the case (sometimes called the police informant) will let you know.
It can be frustrating for victims and witnesses if a case is appealed, but it is a normal and important part of the justice process.
If an appeal happens, support is available to help you get ready to go to court and provide advice and information: