If you are found guilty of a criminal offence in British Columbia, you can appeal both the conviction and the sentence. However, you only have 30 days in which to make an appeal, so you should not delay in seeking expert advice from a criminal lawyer.
Making an appeal
If you are an adult and you have been found guilty of a criminal offence, you may be able to make an appeal.
But it is important to know that you cannot make an appeal simply because you are unhappy with the judge’s decision, be that as it may. Rather, you must be able to show that there has been some kind of error. For instance, maybe the court did not follow the correct procedure, or the judge handed you a sentence that was too harsh for the crime you committed.
A lawyer who specializes in criminal law will be able to advise whether you have the grounds to make an appeal. There are two types of appeal you can make –
- Appealing your conviction – in other words, you were found guilty of an offence and you do not think you should have been
- Appealing your sentence – in other words, you believe the sentence you were given does not reflect the nature of your crime
In some circumstances, you can appeal both your conviction and your sentence. Either way, there are strict time limits in place. In fact, you only have 30 days to file an appeal, starting from the date you are sentenced. This does not leave very much time, which is why it is essential to speak to a lawyer straightaway.
What happens during an appeal?
Your appeal will be heard by the court which is higher than the one you were originally sentenced in. So, if you were sentenced by the BC Provincial Court, your appeal will be heard by the BC Supreme Court. After that it would go to the BC Court of Appeal, and finally to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Your lawyer will file an appeal, after which there will be a court hearing. This is not the same thing as a trial, so it will not involve calling witnesses. Instead, the judges will review your case to see if an error has been made. The outcome will depend on the nature of your appeal, but may include –
- The court acquitting you, which means that you will be found innocent rather than guilty
- The court ordering a different sentence
- The court ordering another trial
- The court dismissing your appeal
Ask a criminal lawyer for help
Appeals are extremely complex and it is highly recommended that you ask a criminal lawyer for help. If you do not already have a lawyer acting on your behalf, or you are not happy with your current representation, our experienced criminal lawyers will be more than happy to assist.