Frequently asked questions
I have just been convicted by a jury in the Crown Court. What is the time limit for appealing?
The time limit is 28 days from the date of conviction [and not of sentence if that is later]. The Court of Appeal have the power to extend the time limit for lodging the application and normally will do so if there is a good reason for the delay and there is merit in the grounds of appeal. We will prepare the appropriate application for an extension of time at the same time we prepare an application for leave to appeal.
I have been convicted but I am innocent.Can I appeal?
There is no automatic right of appeal against the verdict of jury. However any convicted person has the right to apply for leave to appeal but the application has to set out grounds for arguing that the conviction is unsafe. If you simply apply to the Court saying that you did not commit the crime your application will be rejected.
How can I show that the conviction was unsafe?
There are normally two basic approaches that we can adopt. The first is to look at the management of the trial by the judge to see if there were any significant mistakes. Did the Judge for example exclude evidence that should have been admitted or vice versa? Did he give proper guidance to the jury on the law and on the evidence in his summing up? We will obtain the necessary transcripts and, if appropriate, get counsels opinion.
The other approach may be to ask the Court of Appeal to consider evidence not heard by the jury. The court has a discretion to hear evidence if it is relevant to the issue of guilt, is admissible in law, is believable and if there is a good reason for that evidence not being given at the trial.
There was evidence available at trial, that my barrister did not call. Can I call that evidence in the Court of Appeal?
If there was a tactical decision by your trial lawyers not to call evidence, e.g. because it was thought that the witness would be more damaging to your case than helpful, it is unlikely that the Court of Appeal would admit it. The court does have an overriding discretion to admit evidence if it is in the interest of justice to do so.
Can I get Legal Aid?
Subject to a means test, you may be entitled to legal aid under the Advice and Assistance scheme. There are some restrictions under the scheme and we must always keep in mind whether it is appropriate for public money to be spent on a case, but as long as there maybe merit in your case, there would normally be no problem.
What is the role of the CCRC?
The Criminal Cases Review Commission is an independent body set up by the Government to consider wrongful convictions. If you have already tried to appeal in the Court of Appeal, you can only appeal further if your case is referred back by the CCRC.
They can only refer a case back if there is a new argument of fresh evidence in relation to which there is a realistic possibility that on such a referral the Court of Appeal will quash conviction.
In very exceptional cases the Commission may investigate a case even though it has never been before the Court of Appeal. The Commission has very wide powers to obtain access to documents held by public bodies, documents which would never be disclosed in the ordinary course of events to solicitors. We will advise on what is the best way of challenging your conviction.