Courts and Sentencing: Understanding the Appeal Process

If you have been convicted of a crime by an Australian court, you will be sentenced by a judge. Depending on the nature of the offence, the punishment you face could vary from a lengthy prison sentence to a fine and community service. However, the Australian legal system also allows those convicted of a crime to appeal against their sentence. Below is a guide to everything you need to know about the appeal process.

How the process works

The Australian court system is made up of a number of different courts. The Supreme Court can overrule the rulings of the lower courts such as the Magistrates Court. If you have been convicted of a federal offence, you will be put on trial in a Federal Court. Decisions made in a Federal Court can be overruled or amended by the High Court which is the highest court in the Australian legal system. 

A formal petition starts the appeal process to a higher court, which asks the judge to review the sentence and lays out any evidence that the original sentence was unduly harsh or that the conviction was in some way unsafe. This evidence will be reviewed by a panel of judges who sit on the higher court, and they will then consider the sentencing guidelines and any other information about original trial such as the transcripts and prosecution evidence before making a decision. They will then rule as to if the convicted person should be granted a new trial, have their sentence reduced or if the current sentence should stand.

The time limits 

However, although a convicted person has the right to appeal, they must do so within strict time limits. If you were sentenced in a Magistrates Court, you would have 28 days from the date of sentencing to make your appeal. If you are appealing against the ruling of the decision made by a Supreme Court, you have 21 days. However, if new evidence comes to light which your lawyer believes could provide grounds for an appeal, you can lodge an application with the Supreme Court asking for an extension so that a new appeal can be lodged. Federal appeals must be made directly to the High Court. The process surrounding Federal appeals can be complicated, so it is best to consult a lawyer.

If you would like further information about the appeals process, you should contact a lawyer today.