Appeals & Miscarriage of Justice
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." – Martin Luther King
The British justice system, although the envy of the world, is not completely infallible. If you have been the victim of a miscarriage of justice, there are several mechanisms of law that can be used to challenge certain decisions and judgements that you feel have been made unfairly. Every case is different, and it’s imperative you get the right advice for your circumstances to give you the best possible chance.
You may have been wrongfully convicted, or feel that the sentence you have been given is disproportionate to the offence. Where an error has been made, Draycott Browne’s criminal conviction solicitors can help. We understand the devastating impact that a wrongful conviction can have on your life – we are one of the few dedicated defence firms who have extensive experience and a proven track record of effectively challenging miscarriages of justice.
Public inquiries are investigations into events that have, or could, cause public concern. They aim to establish exactly what happened, and what can be done to prevent the same or similar events happening again in the future. They can be a powerful way to hold public bodies to account and can be a tool to bring about improvements to policy and procedures.
If you have been impacted by a decision that you feel was made wrongly or in error, a judicial review can be an option to challenge the legality of that decision. The aim of a judicial review is to have a decision or verdict quashed, so that it can be taken again within the bounds of the law – this may not change the verdict itself but will make sure that the decision taken is fairer and more sound.
Criminal Case Review Commission
The Criminal Cases Review Commission, (CCRC) is an independent body set up to “investigate and identify potential miscarriages of justice.” If you feel that you have been wrongly convicted or wrongly sentenced, you can apply to the CCRC to refer your case to a court of appeal. If you have already appealed and been unsuccessful, an application to the CCRC is the last route of appeal available to you.
Is an appeal the right route for you? There are two circumstances in which you can appeal:
- if you pleaded ‘not guilty’ at your trial, you may be able to appeal against your conviction
- if you pleaded ‘guilty’ you may be able to appeal against your sentence.
Appealing against your conviction
If you pleaded ‘not guilty’ but have been convicted, and you want to challenge that conviction, you will ideally need new facts or evidence to support you that were not available when you went to trial. For example, if a new witness has come forward with information that might support your case, you may have grounds to appeal.
Appealing against your sentence
If you pleaded ‘guilty’ and were sentenced, you can only appeal against your sentence if you can demonstrate that your sentence was wrong or excessive. This is a complex task and taking expert legal advice as early as possible is highly recommended. A successful appeal will mean that your sentence is reduced – talk to us for advice on your particular circumstances.
In either case, if correct procedures were not adhered to, or the law was applied wrongly, this may also be grounds for appeal.
What if I disagree with a verdict from the magistrates’ court?
If you were tried at a magistrates’ court, and you disagree with the conviction or sentence you have been given, you can appeal to the Crown Court – but you have a strict 21 day time limit to do so.
Your case will be heard afresh and treated as if new by a different judge and magistrates, who will re-examine the evidence and come to their conclusion. The Crown Court case will be almost identical in format to your case in the Magistrates’ court, but will not involve a jury.
What if I disagree with a verdict from the Crown Court?
If you have been found guilty by a Crown Court and believe that you have been wrongfully convicted, you may be able to appeal to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal is the highest court within the Senior Courts of England and Wales and deals solely with appeals from other courts or tribunals.
In order to do this, you need to apply for ‘leave to appeal’ within 28 days of your conviction or sentence. If you are granted permission, the Court of Appeal will consider each of the grounds for appeal you put forward and will come to a conclusion as to whether your conviction is ‘safe.’ The Court of Appeal is the only route of appeal once you have been convicted by a Crown Court.
You will only be granted permission to appeal if you can prove that something has gone seriously wrong with the trial procedure – your advocate will advise you on your individual grounds for appeal and will assist you in proceeding forward.
Missing the deadline for appeal in either case does not go in your favour, so it is imperative that you seek legal advice and take the right steps as swiftly as possible.
Are there time limits when submitting an appeal?
There are time limits depending on whether you have been convicted by a magistrates’ court or the Crown Court. In exceptional circumstances you may be able to appeal ‘out of time’, but you must be able to fully justify why you have done this.
What if I am not given permission to appeal?
Your application for “leave to appeal” will be considered by a single appeal judge. The judge will decide whether or not you have grounds enough for a successful appeal, and if they deem your application as likely to fail, they may reject it. They will provide you with the reason for their decision in writing. If your application for leave to appeal is rejected, you can request that that your case is still put forward to the full court, but this can be a risky strategy, potentially with harsh penalties if you fail at this stage, so you need robust legal advice if you are considering this route.
What if I lose my appeal?
If you lose your appeal, the original conviction or sentence will remain unaltered, and there may be additional court costs to pay. If you are not given leave to appeal, unfortunately there is unlikely to be any further action that you can take.
If new evidence comes to light after the appeal hearing you may be able to submit an application to the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC). If we feel that this is a course of action worth taking under the circumstances, we will prepare your application to argue that the CCRC should refer your case back to the Court of Appeal.
What if I win my appeal?
If you are successful in appealing against your sentence, it is probable that your sentence will be reduced.
A successful appeal against a conviction may lead to a re-trial, or in your conviction being quashed and removed from the official record. If your conviction is quashed your sentence no longer applies, and you may have your legal costs refunded. You may even be eligible to apply for compensation – talk to your solicitor for advice if this is the case.
How we can help
If you want to appeal your sentence or conviction, we will do everything in our power to give you the best possible chance to build a successful case. This will involve giving you an honest assessment of your chances of winning your appeal. If we think that an appeal is the right course of action for you, we will take your case, look at all of the evidence and investigate your conviction. We will ensure that the correct protocol is followed within the time frames allowed and will be with you every step of the way.
We understand the situation you find yourself in, and we will treat you with respect and empathy as we work with you. We will support and guide you throughout the process of challenging your conviction, making sure that you fully understand the process and demonstrating why we are one of the country’s leading criminal defence solicitors.
CONTACT DRAYCOTT BROWNE SOLICITORS TODAY
The Criminal Appeals Lawyers at Draycott Browne, are widely recognised as one of the North of England's leading team of criminal defence lawyers with specialist appeals process expertise.
Contact us today by calling 0161 228 2244. If you would like us to contact you, simply fill in our online enquiry form and a member of the team will be in touch as soon as possible.
We are highly regarded, nationally across the legal profession and noted for consistently delivering positive results. Our team possess a breadth of technical knowledge across specialist areas of appeal and miscarriage of justice proceedings that will provide you with the expertise needed when facing a wrongful conviction.
Our team regularly act for clients in London and throughout Midlands and of course the North West including clients from Birmingham and Liverpool. By entrusting us, you can be assured that you will be working with a team of highly skilled and experienced Appeal and Wrongful Conviction Lawyers who have a thorough and comprehensive knowledge of the law.
Our legal team is available 7 days a week. For expert legal advice or representation, call Draycott Browne today on +44 (0)161 266 7088
When you are facing the stiffest challenge, you cannot afford to settle for anything less than Draycott Browne.