The Criminal Appeals Process



 If you disagree with a judicial decision made in a case you are involved in, you may be able to ask a Senior Court to review that decision.

The prosecution can also appeal your sentence if they think it wasn't tough enough.

It is recommended that you seek legal advice before commencing an appeal in the High Court. For more information, see the legal help section of the Ministry’s website.

What you can appeal against

There are general rights of appeal for most decisions made by the Court, including:

  • conviction;
  • sentence;
  • refusal to grant bail;
  • pre-trial decisions (e.g. a ruling that evidence is admissible);
  • suppression of name(s) or details relating to your case;
  • questions of law; and
  • costs orders.

Note: when you appeal against a judicial decision, the outcome of that appeal will not necessarily be in your favour. For example, if you appeal against your sentence, the court has the authority to increase that sentence appealed against.

Who can I appeal to?

The first time you appeal a decision of a court, it is called a first appeal. The level of the court that decides the first appeal is called the first appeal court. The High Court will be your first appeal court if you are appealing the decision of a District Court judge.

In some circumstances, you may also be able to appeal the decision made by the court that heard the first appeal. This is called a further appeal. For example, if you appealed the decision of a Community Magistrate to the District Court (a first appeal), you may then be able to appeal that District Court decision to the High Court (a further appeal).

The Supreme Court is the highest court you can appeal to.

Will Legal Aid cover my Appeal?

Legal Aid may cover your appeal. However, even if you had legal aid for your trial you’ll have to apply for legal aid again for your appeal.

 How do I appeal?

You should discuss your reasons for wanting to appeal with your lawyer. They'll give you an opinion on your chances of success. The decision you are seeking to appeal will determine how your appeal will progress through the justice system, including the court it may be heard in.

If you require more information on the criminal appeals process, you can;

  • contact our litigation team; or
  • ask for help at your nearest:

                         Community Law Centre
                         Citizens Advice Bureau

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