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If you’re unhappy about the decision made by the Magistrates’ Court, you may be able to appeal their decision.
Appeals against the decision of the magistrates in criminal cases are heard by the Crown Court. Appeals are heard by a Crown Court Judge sitting with not less than two and not more than four magistrates.
You may appeal to the Crown Court on a point of law or fact. If you pleaded not guilty, you can appeal against conviction or sentence; if you pleaded guilty, against sentence only.
An appeal against conviction is a complete rehearing of the entire case, so evidence not previously put before the magistrates may be adduced at the appeal. An appeal against sentence is a rehearing of the sentencing process only.
You must appeal within 21 days of the date you were sentenced. If you miss this deadline you will have to ask the court for permission before you can appeal.
Once you make a formal application to appeal, the Crown Court will notify you when and where the hearing will take place. The hearing is usually held at your nearest Crown Court.
If the Magistrates’ Court had previously disqualified you from driving, then you can also apply to either the Magistrates’ or Crown Court, to have your driving disqualification suspended pending the outcome of your appeal.
At your appeal hearing, the Crown Court may confirm, reverse or vary any part of the decision appealed against, remit the case to the magistrates with directions, or make any order it thinks just.
If you win your appeal against conviction, your sentence will no longer apply, and you should be entitled to claim a proportion of your costs. If you win your appeal against sentence the court may reduce or change your sentence however, if you lose your appeal the Crown Court can also increase your sentence, but not more than the Magistrates’ Court could have sentenced you to.
If you lose your appeal, you may also have to pay costs.
If you decide, for whatever reason, that you wish to abandon your appeal, you will need to send a ‘Notice of Abandonment of Appeal’ to the Magistrates’ Court where you had your trial and the Crown Court where your hearing was due to take place.
You must also send a copy to any other parties involved in the case, for example the Crown Prosecution Service.
Your appeal cannot be restarted once it’s been stopped.
If you decide to abandon your appeal on the day of the appeal hearing, this will only be considered at the courts’ discretion and may well result in you incurring additional unnecessary costs.
If you give notice to abandon your appeal, the prosecution can apply to the Magistrates' Court to order you to pay costs. The court can award costs that it considers just and reasonable in respect of expenses properly incurred by the prosecution in connection with the appeal before notice of abandonment was received.
Under certain circumstances, if you didn’t attend a hearing in the Magistrates’ Court, for example, your trial was effective in the absence and you were unaware of the hearing, or you didn’t realise you’d been convicted of an offence, then it may be possible for you to ask the Magistrates’ Court to reopen your case.
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