Anyone who is aggrieved by a conviction or sentence imposed by a Magistrates Court in England and Wales has a right of appeal to the Crown Court.
An appeal to the Crown Court is a re-hearing which means that the Judge looks at the case afresh and hears all the evidence again before passing Judgement.
A notice of appeal to the Crown Court normally has to be lodged within 21 days of the decision of the Court which is being appealed against.
If the appeal is lodged after this period, an application for leave to appeal out of time must be made.
Appeals to the Administrative Court are generally lodged if the party lodging the appeal disagrees with the Court’s interpretation of the law and wishes the High Court to decide whether an error of law has been made.
Our lawyers have extensive experience of handling successful appeals both in the Crown Court and Administrative Court.
We are often instructed by motorists who may have decided against having legal representation in the Magistrates Court but are unhappy with the outcome of their case. Complete a contact form or call our office at any time should you wish to obtain advice about your case.
A ‘speeding ticket’ normally refers to either an NIP (notice of intended prosecution) or an offer of a fixed penalty of 3 points and a £100.00 fine. The ticket itself does not need to be appealed as unless an out of court disposal such as a fixed penalty or speed awareness course is processed it will revert automatically to Court. If you receive notification of a speeding offence and have identified the driver at the time you do not actually have to do anything to progress the matter to Court. All you need to do is to wait for the police to issue Court papers. If and when you receive papers you will then have to make a decision about your plea. If you plead not guilty case the matter proceeds to a trial. If you plead guilty, the Court decides on the penalty to be imposed.
It is only after the Magistrates have made a decision that you can appeal to the Crown Court. An appeal against a conviction leads to a re-hearing of all the evidence in the case before a Judge and two Magistrates in the Crown Court. An appeal against sentence will result in the Judge looking at your case afresh and deciding on the appropriate sentence independently of the decision made in the lower Court.
This often happens after a person has moved house and the Court papers (summons, single justice procedure or postal requisition) have been sent to the old address.
If you have been convicted in absence without any knowledge of the proceedings you do have the option of lodging an appeal to the Crown Court. However, the normal course of action would be to make an appointment in order to swear a statutory declaration relating to your lack of knowledge of the proceedings. A statutory declaration can be made at any Magistrates’ Court in England or Wales – it does not need to be made at the Court which convicted you. This declaration, if accepted by the Court, has the effect of setting aside the conviction so that the proceedings start again. If you plead not guilty at this point it will then proceed to trial.
If you fail to appear in Court when on bail, you may be disqualified from driving in your absence. Likewise, if the Court has given notice via mail that disqualification is being considered, you may be disqualified if you fail to attend proceedings as instructed. Under those circumstances, you may appeal the decision in the Crown Court or if you had no prior knowledge of the proceedings.
Some care is needed before deciding whether to appeal or lodge a statutory declaration. The conviction may seem unjust but there would be little point restarting the case or going through the appeal process unless there is a realistic prospect of the Court’s decision being overturned. For example, if you have only just been notified of having been disqualified but the period of disqualification has ended there may be little point in starting proceedings again as there is a possibility that a further penalty could be imposed. Similarly, if the Magistrates sentenced you in absence without knowing your income the fine imposed may actually end up being higher in the long run if you appeal. We have considerable experience in handling these situations and can assist you in making a decision about whether to proceed and if so how.
This is an all too familiar situation. It is perfectly understandable that you would think it appropriate to attend Court unrepresented. It shows an admirable faith in the Justice system’s ability to do what it is supposed to do – provide justice. The harsh reality is that unrepresented defendants rarely do their case justice as they lack the knowledge of the legal system and the objectivity required.
Luckily there is an appeal process that can be utilised in this situation. If you are aggrieved by the Court’s decision, it’s worth obtaining some advice about whether an appeal would be worthwhile. We have successfully appealed many other cases where our client was initially unrepresented.
Rather than appealing to the Crown Court, you may also appeal on a point of law to the High Court. This can be done either using the case stated procedure, in which you would ask the lower Court to set out the question of law which needs to be determined by the High Court or by way of Judicial Review. You can only appeal to the High Court if you believe that an error of law has been made as opposed to simply disagreeing with the decision on the basis of fact. Such appeals are less common than appeals to the Crown Court and tend to be more expensive so you must be sure that you have strong grounds before going down this route.
Appeals must be made to the Crown Court within 21 days (extensions may be granted by the Crown Court judge). Appeals by way of case stated to the High Court must be lodged within 21 days of the lower Court’s decision – this period cannot be extended. Appeal by way of Judicial Review must be lodged as quickly as possible and in any event within 3 months.
We have extensive experience of appealing motoring convictions from the Magistrates’ Court and are happy to discuss cases on a no obligation basis. So if you want to know more about your options and whether it would be worth appealing the Court’s decision contact us now.