Guide to Appealing a Prison Sentence

Prison Info

If you or a loved one have recently been sentenced and you feel that the decision is unjust or excessive, you have the legal right to challenge it through the appeal process. Here’s our simple guide to walk you through appealing a prison sentence in the UK.

Understanding Appeal

An appeal is a formal request to have a court decision examined by a higher authority. Typically, an appeal can involve either conviction or the length or type of sentence handed down.

The Basis for Appeal

Your appeal must be founded on the belief that a ‘significant error’ has happened during your trial or if you believe the sentence is ‘manifestly excessive’ or wrongly imposed considering the case law.

Appeal Against Conviction

If you’re found guilty of a crime, you have the right to appeal against the conviction if you believe there has been a critical legal or factual error during the trial, or if new and compelling evidence has been identified.

Appeal Against Sentence

Appealing against a sentence generally implies you accept the conviction but feel the sentence is excessive or wrong based on the guidelines. You can challenge both the length and type of penalty.

Seek Legal Advice

Before appealing, it’s advisable to seek competent legal advice. Your solicitor can guide you on the merits of your argument, the possibility of success, and any potential risks involved. If you can’t afford a lawyer, legal aid is typically available.

Leave to Appeal

The first step in appealing is to fill out the “Notice and Grounds of Appeal” form where you write your reasons for appealing. This is then considered by a single judge who can grant or deny ‘leave to appeal’.

Appealing to Court

If granted ‘leave to appeal’, your case will be heard before the Court of Appeal or the Crown Court depending on your original trial. The court will examine the evidence and decide whether to uphold or overturn the original decision or reduce your sentence.

What Happens Next?

  • If your appeal is successful, your conviction can be quashed or your sentence can be reduced.
  • If your appeal is refused, there are generally no changes to your conviction or sentence. However, you can make an application to appeal to the Supreme Court, although this is very rare.

Timing is Crucial

Appeals must be filed within 28 days of conviction or sentencing. If you miss this window, you can plead ‘exceptional circumstances’, but it’s not guaranteed to be accepted.

Risks involved

Appealing a sentence carries some risks. The Court might increase your sentence if they believe it was unduly lenient. Therefore, it’s crucial to get sound legal advice before proceeding.

Taking time to understand the appeals process can significantly affect the outcome of your case. Remember, everyone has the right to fair representation and a fair trial. If you believe your experience has breached these rights, know that you have options and zealous advocates ready to assist.

The content above does not constitute legal advice, and it’s advised an appeal process is performed in consultation with a legal professional.

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