An appeal doesn’t mean a new trial where you can present defence all over again and hope to get a different outcome. Instead, an appeal enables you to appear before a higher court of law to argue that based on the transcript and evidence tendered at your previous trial, the trial judge made a legal mistake or an unreasonable decision.
Your criminal defence lawyer may argue that the judge interpreted or applied the law wrongfully, and that, resultantly, they made the wrong decision. When appealing against your judgment, you may argue that your conviction or sentence is unfit because of incorrect interpretation of the law or that your sentence is unreasonable as compared to the offence you were charged with.
What Can Be The Basis For A Criminal Appeal?
After your conviction, if you find evidence that’s relevant to your innocence or guilt, and that was not presented before the court of law at your previous trial, you can utilize that shred of evidence as a basis for your appeal. Nonetheless, it’s not an easy task to introduce new evidence in order to appeal against your conviction.
Factors Affecting The Criminal Appeal
If you’re to present a new piece of evidence, the court will particularly consider these essential factors:
- Is the shred of evidence being introduced credible and believable?
- Is the piece of evidence being submitted relevant to issues at trial?
- If the evidence being presented is added to the other piece of evidence presented at trial before, could it reasonably affect the decision?
- Could the evidence have been admitted in the trial if the defence were careful?
If the appeal court accepts your new evidence, they will order a new trial, and you’ll no longer be convicted or sentenced but still charged with the offence until the final verdict of a new trial.
Possible Outcomes Of A Criminal Appeal?
The following are some of the probable outcomes of a criminal appeal:
Acquittal Or Found Not Guilty
The best possible outcome you can get out of a criminal appeal is an acquittal. This happens when the higher court finds that the conviction can no longer be supported based on the evidence that was submitted at trial.
Ordering A New Trial
The reviewing court may order a new trial after finding that the previous trial was not conducted appropriately. It may be because the trial judge made an error when interpreting and applying the law, or there may be a reason to believe that the judge was biased.
If the reviewing court orders a new trial, they will send back your case, and it will get retried. In that case, your conviction or sentence will also get vacated. However, you’ll still stay charged with a felony until the final verdict of a new trial.
Substituting An Acquittal For A Finding Of Guilt
After the introduction of new evidence, the reviewing court can decide that the trial judge made an error by acquitting you. After that, the appeal court will declare that you were guilty of the crime after vacating your acquittal. When that happens, the court will automatically grant you leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Varying The Sentence
When appealing your sentence, the court may revise your conviction and give you a new one that’s less severe, or they can change certain aspects of your sentence. For example, the court can remove ancillary orders like firearms prohibition or DNA order, or they can increase, decrease, or even eliminate the time you’re required to serve in prison.
Dismissal Of An Appeal
If the appeal court finds that the decision made by the trial judge was reasonable enough as compared to the evidence and the arguments presented at trial, they will dismiss your appeal. In such cases, the original decision made by the trial judge will be restored.