Appeals Against Sentence

Appeals Against Sentence

In this article, we consider appeals against sentence from the Crown Court to the Court of Appeal. The appeal process can be complicated depending on the individual case, but the basics are outlined below. 

Early Indications

All Clients should be given an early indication of the likely sentence range, depending on whether there is a guilty plea or conviction after trial.

In some cases, I can be relatively precise as to what might be expected. In others, the range can be quite broad.

But, things do not always go to plan. The evidence may change during the case making it a lot more serious than originally thought (and it can go the other way as well), or the Judge may take a different view of the case, or, and this happens a lot, the Judge falls into error and makes a mistake when sentencing.

First Steps

In all cases, following sentence, there should be clear advice on appeal. This will normally be given verbally, but you can have it in writing if you request that. In more complex cases it is usual for the advocate to set out in writing why an appeal is or is not appropriate.

If an appeal is advised, we will discuss this with you and take the next steps. Likewise, if an appeal is not thought to be viable.

What are the grounds for appeal?

There is a margin of appreciation in sentencing, which means that the Court of Appeal will not interfere merely because it would have sentenced differently.

There are 13 distinct grounds for appeal, but they conveniently break down into two broad labels. For the court to intervene the sentence must be either

  • Wrong in principle, or
  • Manifestly excessive

All appeals are considered initially by a Single Judge, who decides whether the case has merit or not. If that Judge refuses leave to appeal, then we will discuss the next steps with you.

If I am told not to appeal, can I ignore that advice?

Yes, you can. However, this should be discussed with us in advance because there are risks in proceeding with a meritless appeal. A court can impose costs, and also in some cases make a 'loss of time' direction, which means that release from prison will be delayed (14-42 days normally).

How long does an appeal take?

This depends on the complexity of the case and the listing requirements of the court, but appeals are typically heard within six months of being lodged with the court. If a person has received a short prison sentence, there is a procedure to expedite an appeal, and in some cases, they can be heard within a few days.

Can I get bail pending an appeal?

Only in rare cases will the Court grant bail pending appeal, the usual remedy it to expedite the hearing in those cases where this approach is merited.

Where is the appeal heard?

Most appeals are held at the Court of Appeal in London, although occasionally the court sits at regional Crown Court centres. If you are in custody, you will typically be present via video-link, or if on bail you can attend the hearing in person.

Court of Appeal judges will hear the case, and you will be represented by an advocate at the hearing. In some cases, the prosecution is also present, but not always.

When will I find out the result?

In most cases, the result is announced at the end of the hearing. If complex issues are involved, then the decision might take a few weeks longer.

If you didn't represent me, can you advise on appeal?

Yes, I would be happy to discuss your case.

For all criminal law related advice please contact me on +44(0)7766001774 or email me:

Appealing your conviction

Convicted Before A Magistrates' Court - Can I Appeal?

Many people convicted at the Magistrates' Court feel aggrieved at the outcome, and wish to consider an appeal.

A grievance may arise because they think that their case was not prepared correctly, or that the Court reached the wrong result.

For many people, a conviction could be a major barrier to employment or travel overseas, even where the offence itself is relatively minor.

The Court process is far from perfect. If you have a grievance, it is only right and proper that you consider your options.

So, what can I do about it?

The first thing to remember is that you must act quickly as you only have 21 days from the date of sentencing to appeal your conviction.

If more than 21 days have passed, then get in touch as soon as possible as I will be able to advise on 'out of time appeals'.

I will also be able to consider whether other avenues of appeal, namely Judicial Review and appeal by way of case stated (both to the High Court) are more suitable.

I pleaded guilty, can I appeal?

You might be able to appeal against 'conviction' if you pleaded guilty, but only if your plea is 'equivocal'. In this instance, there are two remedies that I can explore with you.

Do I need permission to appeal?

An appeal against conviction from the Magistrates' Court to the Crown Court is what is termed 'an appeal as of right', which means that you do not need any permission to appeal. You are automatically entitled to appeal although there are some other issues, such as sentence and costs (see below) that you should consider first.

Is sentence suspended pending an appeal?

Your sentence is not suspended pending appeal, although:

  • We can apply for bail if you are in custody; and
  • Apply for any driving disqualification to be suspended.

If you have been made subject to a Community Order, this will need to be complied with, although we will take steps to try and expedite the hearing.

What happens at the appeal hearing?

The Crown Court, presided over by a Judge and Lay Magistrates (not a jury), hears the case afresh.

We do, however, have a valuable opportunity to review what might have gone wrong at the first trial and take steps to remedy any failures.

We can also examine what other evidence ought to the gathered on your behalf, or what lines of attack we might usefully deploy against the prosecution case.

If I lose the appeal, what happens?

If that happens, you will be re-sentenced by the Crown Court, and be liable for Prosecution Costs. I will discuss the Costs implications with you in detail before any decision to appeal is made.

It is important to note that the Crown Court is not restricted to the same sentence imposed by the Magistrates' Court, so, you may receive a higher penalty.

This is one of the risks that you need to balance - and one of the reasons why we will at an early stage examine the other avenues of appeal with you (judicial review and case stated).


If you would like assistance with an appeal against conviction and/or sentence, please give me a call on +44(0)7766001774 or email me: