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Appealing from a Magistrates' Court

Magistrates' Court appeals process

1 It's easy to appeal against a criminal conviction or sentence in a Magistrates' Court, but you have to make your mind up quickly. If you entered a guilty plea you can only appeal against your sentence, not against the conviction itself.

2 Although there is no special form to complete, you must put something in writing and send it to the court where you were convicted. They will need your name and address and the date of your conviction. There is no need to explain why you want to appeal, but you can do so if you want. This document becomes your 'Notice of Appeal', and it must reach the Magistrates' Court within 21 days of the date when you were sentenced. You can do all this without any help from a lawyer, if you have to. The court staff make a note in the court register to say you have appealed, and send your notice on to the local Crown Court.

3 The Crown Court will hold a fresh trial of your case - a re-hearing. In an appeal against conviction, each side can call the same evidence as before, or can add or drop witnesses. There is no jury: the decision is made by a Crown Court judge, usually sitting with two magistrates. If they find against you again, the original conviction stands and there will usually be some extra costs for you to pay. There is a risk that the sentence might be increased as well. If you win the case, your own legal costs will probably be paid back to you, the conviction will be removed, and the sentence falls away, but you will not get any compensation for the inconvenience or loss you have suffered. When you appeal only against the sentence, the hearing is shorter. The prosecution will outline the facts of the offence and tell the judge about any previous convictions you may have, and you can say what you want in order to persuade the Crown Court to reduce the sentence.