How to appeal a criminal conviction or sentence

It is very important for a constituent to seek legal advice if they are considering an appeal. The Commons Library briefing Legal help: where to go and how to pay, provides information about sources of legal help and advice.

Appeals from the magistrates’ court and appeals from the Crown Court in England and Wales have different rules, and there are different rules for appeals in Scotland. This page does not include the rules for Scotland.

There is information about appealing both a magistrates’ court verdict and a Crown Court verdict at the Gov.uk page, Appeal a sentence or conviction.

Magistrates’ court

Timescale

It is important to point out that the appeal must be made within 21 days of the sentencing. Otherwise the constituent must ask the Crown Court for permission to appeal. The magistrates’ court where the trial took place will explain the procedure for this.

There is information about the appeal process and procedure at the Gov.uk page, Appeal a magistrates’ court verdict.

Crown Court

Timescale

A constituent must apply for permission to appeal within 28 days of:

  • the date of the conviction, if the appeal is against the conviction
  • the date of the sentencing, if the appeal is against the sentence

It may be possible to get an extension for a late application.

There is information about the appeal process and procedure at the Gov.uk page, Appeal a Crown Court verdict.

There is more information about appeals from the Crown Court in these guides:

JUSTICE, How to appeal: a guide to the criminal appeal system, October 2018

HM Courts and Tribunals Service, Guide to commencing proceedings in the Court of Appeal Criminal Division, August 2018

Criminal Cases Review Commission

The Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) is the independent public body set up to investigate possible miscarriages of justice in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The constituent should normally try to appeal through the court where he or she was convicted before applying to the CCRC. There is more information on the CCRC website

Unduly Lenient Sentence Scheme

The Unduly Lenient Sentence Scheme provides for the public to ask the Attorney General to refer a sentence to the Court of Appeal for being too low. There is a separate Constituency Casework page which provides sources of information about this.