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  • Rai Gill

Appealing Against Sentence from the Crown Court

If in your case you were sentenced in the Crown Court, either after trial or committal, there exists a route to appeal to the Court of Appeal.


Application


As with a conviction, procedure requires that a person lodge an application to be granted leave to appeal against any sentence handed down by a judge having been convicted on indictment (including any attached summary charges). The only exception to this is when the sentence in question has been fixed by law (e.g. a life sentence for murder).


The appeal must be lodged within 28 days of the date of sentence, and will be considered by a single Judge of the Court of Appeal. If refused, the application can be renewed and will be considered by the full Court (i.e. three judges). The sentencing Judge may also issue a certificate of fitness for appeal, but will do so only in exceptional circumstances.


Grounds


The question that the Court will consider in the appeal is whether the sentence is manifestly excessive or wrong in principle. There is no strict or precise definition of this test, but the Court of Appeal may quash a sentence where (inter alia):


  1. The sentence is not justified by law;

  2. The sentence has been passed on the wrong factual basis;

  3. Some matter has been improperly taken into account or there is some fresh matter to be taken into account;

  4. There has been a failure to honour a legitimate expectation; or

  5. The sentence was wrong in principle or manifestly excessive.


Other Offences


Where the Court allows an appeal against sentence in relation to once offence, it may nevertheless consider and adjust (i.e. quash and pass afresh) sentences relating to other offences on the indictment (occasionally thereby reducing or negating any appeal allowed in relation to the sentence that was the subject of the appeal). The Court of Appeal’s jurisdiction is to review the overall sentence, and has all the sentencing powers of the Crown Court at the time that the original sentence was passed.


Further, where a person is convicted in the Magistrates’ Court and, following committal, is sentenced in the Crown Court, he may appeal to the Court of Appeal against that sentence. A sentence may also be appealed which was handed down by the Crown Court following the activation of a suspended sentence or conditional discharge.


In confiscation cases, the Court of Appeal may, as an alternative to passing a new sentence where an appeal is allowed, quash any order made by the Crown Court, and then direct the Crown Court to proceed with sentencing afresh.


However, in exercising its powers, the Court of Appeal may not pass any sentence that, taking the case as a whole, results in the appellant being more severely dealt with (i.e. receiving a higher sentence) than he was in the Crown Court.


Outcome


That does not mean that an appeal is without risk. The Court has the power, at its discretion, to order a loss of time. This occurs where the single judge or full Court (upon a renewed application) considers that the application is sufficiently without merit to succeed. The Court can then direct that all the time that the applicant has served in custody up until that date should be discounted towards the serving of the sentence on appeal. The sentence will effectively restart.


Legal disclaimer: Articles are intended as an introduction to the topic and do not constitute legal advice. The information contained herein is accurate at the date of publication but please note that the law is ever changing and evolving. If you require advice in relation to any matter raised in this article please contact a member of the team.

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