For many clients, their involvement in the criminal justice system does not end at the completion of trial and sentencing. Both the Defence and the Crown Prosecutor have a broad right to appeal verdicts and sentences.
Depending on the nature of the criminal appeal, these rights may extend to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The Court of Appeals
In the case that the Defense or Prosecution disagrees with a judge’s decision, they can apply to the Courts of Appeal to review it. If the appeal court allows the appeal, it can reverse or change the judge’s decision or order a new trial or hearing.
Otherwise, the decision stands.
Whoever is appealing the case must demonstrate that the judge’s interpretation of the law or the facts affected the result of the trial.
If both parties reach an agreement in appeals court, this usually ends the judicial process.
Frequently Asked Questions About Criminal Appeals in Alberta
1. Does getting an appeal mean getting a new trial?
No, an appeal is not a new trial. It is not an opportunity to present your defence a second time in order to obtain a different result. What an appeal does is allow you to go to a higher court and argue that the judge made an error or unreasonable decision.
2. What are the possible outcomes of a criminal appeal?
If the application of appeal is accepted and reviewed by the appeals court, there are several possible outcomes. The best possible outcome is an acquittal in which you are deemed not guilty of the crime.
In some cases, a new trial may be ordered if the reviewing court determines that the first trial was not conducted properly. If this happens, your case is sent back to the courts and retried.
An appeal may result in your sentence being varied, meaning that you may receive a new sentence that is more or less severe.
Lastly, your appeal can be dismissed if the appeal court finds that the judge’s decision was reasonable.
3. Can every case be appealed?
Not every case has an automatic right of appeal but in the case of criminal proceedings, you have a right to appeal to the Court of Appeal in respect to indictable offences. When it comes to summary conviction offences, these appeals are first heard by the Superior Court of Justice.
4. Is there a time limit when it comes to appealing?
There is a time limit when it comes to appealing but this varies from case to case so it’s important to understand the statutes or regulations that apply to your case.
If you miss the deadline for filing your appeal, you can bring a motion to request an extension. This includes filing an affidavit that explains why your appeal was not filed during the required appeal period.
A judge will hear the motion and decide whether or not to grant you an extension.
Are You Ready to File An Appeal?
Criminal appeal practice is a highly specialized and complex area of criminal law.
Few criminal law firms conduct appeals because of demanding timelines, rigid filing rules, and the significant preparation time involved.
Fortunately, DDSG Criminal Law has a number of expert lawyers with years of experience in this area. Contact us today to learn more.