If you plead not guilty to a criminal charge and are later found guilty in the Local Court after contesting the case, you have the right to appeal the guilty verdict to the District Court of New South Wales. Additionally, you can appeal against a sentence if you believe it is overly harsh. This right applies whether you pleaded guilty or not guilty and were subsequently convicted. This is commonly known as a severity or sentence appeal. If you believe that you received an unfairly severe sentence or if you feel you should have been acquitted, KPT Defence Lawyers can assist you in initiating an appeal and representing your case in court.
To initiate an appeal, you need to submit a Notice of Appeal to the District Court through the Local Court registry. In the case of a conviction appeal, a specific hearing date will be assigned. Initially, the matter is typically presented to a Registrar of the District Court, with the possibility of a subsequent hearing before a judge.
A District Court judge will carefully review all the evidence presented during the Local Court hearing to determine whether the prosecution successfully established the case.
If a magistrate delivers a guilty verdict, you have 28 days to initiate an appeal. If the sentence proceedings conclude at a later date, the 28-day period starts from that date. Additionally, you can apply for leave to appeal within 3 months from the finalisation of the Local Court proceedings.
After this 3-month period, your ability to appeal to the District Court is limited, regardless of the grounds for your appeal. In such cases, seeking a Supreme Court review of the Local Court decision might be an option.
When appealing a conviction, there is a general filing fee that will vary depending if you are charged with one or multiple offences. You can appeal both the verdict and the severity of the sentence in what is known as an ‘all grounds appeal’.
Seeking Bail After a Full-Time Custodial Sentence
When you receive a full-time imprisonment sentence from the Local Court, you have the option to apply for bail shortly after officially lodging an appeal with the Registry. If your appeal bail request is denied in the Local Court, you can still submit an application in the District Court.
For less severe penalties, such as fines, good behavior bonds, and community service orders, the sentence is temporarily suspended or “stayed” upon filing an appeal. This stay remains in effect until the appeal is resolved.
Driving During an Appeal of a Driving Offence Sentence
If you’ve been found guilty of a traffic offence and the court has imposed a license disqualification, your ability to drive while the appeal is pending depends on whether your license has been suspended by the police. Typically, if you’re charged with a low, medium, or high range ‘prescribed concentration of alcohol’ (PCA) offence, the police won’t immediately suspend your license. In such cases, after initiating an appeal and regaining your license from the RMS, you can drive while awaiting the appeal outcome.
However, for mid or high range PCA offences, the police often suspend your license. This means you may not be able to drive after appealing in the District Court until the appeal is resolved.
Appealing a court decision can be complex, requiring a proper presentation of your case in court. If you believe you’ve been wrongly convicted of an offence or subjected to an unduly severe sentence, contact KPT Defence Lawyers to consult an expert on the possibility of making an appeal. Reach us at (02) 9267 5555.