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Understanding the Appeals Process in Victoria's Criminal Law System



If you have been convicted of a criminal offence in Victoria, Australia, and believe that there has been a miscarriage of justice, you have the right to appeal your conviction or sentence. However, appealing a conviction or sentence is a complex process that requires an in-depth understanding of the appeals system in Victoria. In this blog post, we will explore the appeals process in Victoria's criminal law system, including the grounds for appeal, the different types of appeals, and what to expect during the appeal process. For more information on criminal law charges in Victoria, visit Dribbin & Brown Criminal Lawyers.

Grounds for Appeal in Victoria

In Victoria, an appeal is not a retrial of your case. Instead, it is a review of the decision made by the trial court. The grounds for appeal are limited, and you cannot appeal simply because you disagree with the decision made by the trial court.


The grounds for appeal in Victoria include:


Errors of law: If there was an error of law made by the trial judge or magistrate, you may be able to appeal the decision. For example, if the trial judge admitted evidence that should have been excluded or excluded evidence that should have been admitted, you may have grounds for appeal.

Errors of fact: If there was an error of fact made by the trial judge or magistrate, you may be able to appeal the decision. For example, if the trial judge made a factual finding that was not supported by the evidence, you may have grounds for appeal.

Sentence appeal: If you believe that the sentence imposed by the trial judge or magistrate was too harsh or too lenient, you may be able to appeal the sentence.


Types of Appeals in Victoria

In Victoria, there are two types of appeals: appeals to the County Court and appeals to the Court of Appeal.

Appeals to the County Court: If you were convicted in the Magistrates' Court, you can appeal to the County Court. The County Court is a higher court than the Magistrates' Court and has the power to hear appeals from the Magistrates' Court. Appeals to the County Court are heard by a single judge.

Appeals to the Court of Appeal: If you were convicted in the County Court, you can appeal to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal is a higher court than the County Court and has the power to hear appeals from the County Court. Appeals to the Court of Appeal are heard by three judges.


What to Expect During the Appeals Process

The appeals process can be a long and complex process, and it is important to understand what to expect during the appeals process in Victoria.

Preparing the Appeal: The first step in the appeals process is to prepare the appeal. This involves preparing the necessary documents, including a notice of appeal and a grounds of appeal. It is important to seek legal advice from a criminal lawyer who has experience in appeals to ensure that your appeal is properly prepared.

Lodging the Appeal: Once the appeal has been prepared, it must be lodged with the appropriate court. The appeal must be lodged within 28 days of the conviction or sentence being imposed unless the court grants an extension of time.

Hearing the Appeal: Once the appeal has been lodged, it will be listed for a hearing. The length of time between lodging the appeal and the hearing can vary depending on the complexity of the case and the availability of the court.\

Decision: After the hearing, the court will make a decision. The court may:

  1. Uphold the conviction or sentence;
  2. Allow the appeal and set aside the conviction or sentence; or
  3. Allow the appeal in part and vary the conviction or sentence.

Further Appeals: If you are unhappy with the decision made by the court of appeal, you may be able to seek leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia, which is the final court of appeal in Australia. However, seeking leave to appeal to the High Court is a complex process that requires the assistance of a criminal lawyer with experience in High Court appeals.


Time Limits for Lodging an Appeal in Victoria

It is important to note that there are strict time limits for lodging an appeal in Victoria. In most cases, the appeal must be lodged within 28 days of the conviction or sentence being imposed. However, if the appeal relates to a question of law, the time limit may be extended to 3 months. It is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible if you are considering lodging an appeal to ensure that you meet the time limits.


The Effect of a Successful Appeal on a Criminal Record

If your appeal is successful, your conviction or sentence may be overturned or reduced. This means that you will no longer have a criminal record for that offence, or the penalty imposed for the offence will be reduced. However, it is important to note that a successful appeal does not erase your criminal history. Your criminal history will still show that you were charged and convicted of the offence, but it will also show that the conviction or sentence was overturned on appeal.


The Pros and Cons of Pursuing an Appeal

There are pros and cons to pursuing an appeal, and it is important to carefully consider your options before lodging an appeal. One of the benefits of appealing a conviction or sentence is that it gives you the opportunity to have your case reviewed by a higher court. This may result in your conviction or sentence being overturned or reduced. However, there are also risks associated with appealing, including the risk of a more severe sentence being imposed if the appeal is unsuccessful.

Another factor to consider when deciding whether to pursue an appeal is the financial cost. Appeals can be expensive, and you may be required to pay for legal fees, court costs, and other expenses associated with the appeal. It is important to consider whether you can afford to pursue an appeal before lodging an appeal.

Overall, the decision to pursue an appeal should be based on a careful consideration of the benefits and risks involved. It is important to seek legal advice from a criminal lawyer who has experience in appeals to ensure that you make an informed decision.

The Key Takeaways 

The appeals process in Victoria's criminal law system can be a complex and daunting process. It is important to seek legal advice from a criminal lawyer who has experience in appeals to ensure that your appeal is properly prepared and presented. Understanding the grounds for appeal, the types of appeals, and what to expect during the appeals process can help you navigate the process with confidence and improve your chances of success.

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