Criminal Appeal and Outcomes of An Appeal
Being convicted of a criminal offence can have significant consequences on a person’s life. Luckily, there is a system available for individuals to have a judge’s decision in a criminal case reviewed by a higher court.
What is an Appeal?
An appeal happens when someone who is found guilty of committing an offence asks a higher court to review the decision that was made at trial. The person found guilty can appeal their conviction and/or their sentence. The Crown can also try to appeal an acquittal or sentence, but the Crown’s right to appeal is typically much more limited than the offender’s appeal rights.
When an offender asks to have their conviction reviewed, the appeal court will examine whether the trial was conducted properly and whether there were any significant errors. The court can also examine whether the evidence presented at trial actually supports the conviction.
If an offender asks to have their sentence reviewed, the appeal court will examine whether the sentence is fair by looking at factors such as:
· The nature of the crime;
· The background of the offender;
· The impact the crime has on the victim; and
· Sentences that were imposed in similar circumstances.
Which court do I appeal my decision to?
The court that hears the appeal depends on the type of offence that was committed. In Ontario, appeals for less serious offences (summary offences) are heard by the Superior Court of Justice. Conversely, appeals for more serious offences (indictable offences) are heard by the Ontario Court of appeal.
What are the possible outcomes from an appeal hearing?
There are various decisions that can be made by the appeal court after the hearing. Some of these outcomes include:
1. Dismiss the appeal: If the appellate court determines that there were no significant errors with the trial and the evidence supports the conviction, the court can dismiss the appeal.
2. Order a new trial: If the court finds that there were significant errors of law, they may set aside the conviction and order a new trial.
3. Change the sentence: The appeal court may decide to either increase or decrease the sentence, or add or remove certain penalties.
4. Acquittal: if the evidence does not support the decision of guilt made by a lower court, the appeal court may rule that the offender is not guilty of the offence.
5. Substitute a verdict of guilt: The appeal court has the ability to change an acquittal to a verdict of guilty where the offender had their case heard without a jury. If a jury acquits an offender, the appeal court does not have the ability to substitute a verdict of guilty and can only order a new trial.
Appeals against convictions and/or sentences must be commenced at least thirty days from the date of sentencing. Although legal representation is not required for the appeal process, it is highly recommended for individuals who want to appeal their conviction/sentence to get a lawyer because appeals are highly complex and difficult to navigate. The Criminal Lawyers at Tailor Law understand the criminal appeal process in Ontario and are here to help clients make a strong case for appealing a decision.
If you are looking for more information about the criminal appeal process in Ontario, do not hesitate to contact us and our experienced Criminal Lawyers can discuss your matter in more detail over a free consultation. You can reach our office at 905-366-0202 or contact us through our website here.