The criminal lawyers at Australian Criminal Law Group are Sydney’s best appeals lawyers.

We appeal the decisions of courts where you feel the result was unfair, unjust, or plain wrong. We take appeals seriously. The decisions we appeal are often ones that have damaged reputations and destroyed lives. Whether by conviction, loss of driver’s licence, or imprisonment.

We have expert criminal lawyers. For complex appeals to higher courts we have specialist appeals barristers on hand.

Appeals can be to the District Court, Supreme Court, Court of Criminal Appeal or High Court. This depends on where the original proceedings were finalised. You can also apply to the Supreme Court for bail if you are refused in a lower court.

There is a lengthy wait for appeals to be lodged. They should be lodged immediately if you get a result that you are unhappy with.

Below is information about the appeals process. If you need representation or appeals advice, make a website enquiry or call our free 24/7 bail hotline on 8815 8167.

District Court Appeals

Two main types of Appeal are heard at the District Court. Those are:

  • Appeals against a sentence imposed by a Local Court Magistrate whether it follows a defended hearing or a plea of guilty (known as a severity appeal).
  • Appeals against a decision by a Local Court Magistrate that you are guilty of an offence following a defended hearing (known as a conviction appeal).

How do I lodge an Appeal to the District Court?

An Appeal is lodged at the registry of any Local Court. It can also be lodged with the person in charge of the correctional centre where the Appellant is being held in custody.

A severity or conviction appeal must be lodged within 28 days of the sentence/conviction being imposed by the Magistrate. If the appeal is not lodged within 28 days, before three months has elapsed you may apply to the District Court for leave to hear your Appeal.

What happens at the District Court?

In the case of a severity appeal the Director of Public Prosecutions will give the judge a bundle of documents. These can include court attendance notices, police facts sheet, criminal/traffic records and any other documents that the Magistrate had when they imposed the sentence including references. You may be called to give evidence. Fresh evidence such as new references, psychological reports and medical evidence can be tendered in support of your case

In a conviction appeal, the appeal is a rehearing of evidence in the Local Court proceedings. Normally a conviction appeal is determined by the Judge reading the transcript of the Local Court hearing and hearing submissions made by your lawyer and the Director of Public Prosecutions. It is possible to call fresh evidence or recall witnesses, but the leave of the District Court is needed.

What happens at the end of the Appeal?

The District Court can:

  • Quash the conviction and find you not guilty in the case of a conviction appeal;
  • Set aside the sentence and vary the sentence in the case of a severity appeal;
  • Dismiss the appeal and affirm the sentence or conviction.

Supreme Court Bail Appeal

If you are refused bail, you can appeal a decision to the Supreme Court of NSW.

At the Supreme Court bail appeal the judge will hear evidence from people who support your bail application. These could include people you might live with or people who will put up money or property to secure your bail.

Appeals to the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal

The Court of Criminal Appeal is the State’s highest court for criminal matters. A person who has been convicted or who pleaded guilty and sentenced by a Supreme Court or District Court judge may appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal.

Appeals are heard by three judges, although five judges may sit when significant legal issues are being considered. If the judges do not agree, the majority view prevails. When sentence appeals do not involve a dispute on any issue of legal principle, only two judges need to sit.

The main types of Appeal heard in the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal are:

  • An error of law in respect to the severity of a sentence.
  • An error of law in respect to the finding of guilt of the appellant. There are many grounds for appeal, including a challenge to a conviction involving a question of law. The Court of Criminal Appeal may also grant leave to appeal in matters involving questions of fact or mixed questions of fact and law.
  • An error of law in respect to the acquittal of an accused.

How is my Appeal to the Court of Criminal Appeal lodged?

The Appellant must file a Notice of Intention to Appeal within 28 days from sentence. However, if the Notice of Intention to Appeal is not filed within this time the Court is normally flexible in granting leave to appeal.

Appeals to the High Court

The High Court of Australia can deal with cases which come to it on Appeal.

Cases which involve interpretation of the Constitution or where the Court may be invited to depart from one of its previous decisions, or where the Court considers the principle of law involved to be one of major public importance, are normally determined by a full bench comprising all seven Justices if they are available to sit.

Other cases which come to the High Court for final determination involve appeals against the decisions of the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal. These are dealt with by a full court of not less than two Justices.

There is no automatic right to have an appeal heard by the High Court. Parties who wish to appeal must persuade the Court in a preliminary hearing that there are special reasons to cause the appeal to be heard. Decisions of the High Court regarding appeals are final. There are no further appeals once a matter has been decided by the High Court. The decision is binding on all other courts throughout Australia.


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