If you are faced with a criminal conviction that you consider to be unfair or incorrect, then criminal appeal barristers could be the people to help you. These specialists are highly trained in case law and the rules around convictions and sentencing, and they can help you to get the conviction reconsidered, as well as give you a second opinion on your case if you feel that it has been mishandled.
Many appeals advisors offer a fixed-fee service. They will sit down with you and go through conference calls, arrange consultations, give you written advice and their trained legal opinion on how the case was handled, and review the evidence that was used in your conviction.
The first thing that a criminal appeals barrister will want to do is work out whether they really do have a chance of a successful appeal. If they think that there is grounds to appeal your conviction, then obviously they will help with this. They will highlight any new grounds for getting the conviction overturned, discuss points of law that may have been overlooked, and investigate any evidence that may not have been available during the trial. They may be able to bring forward forensic, scientific or DNA evidence that could help you to get a successful appeal.
How the appeal goes will depend on whether you were convicted in the crown court or the Magistrates Court. If you were convicted in the Magistrates Court, then appeals are usually made to the Crown Court however sometimes the case can be appealed at the High Court, if there is reason for a judicial review. Depending on the nature of the conviction and the sentence, in some cases it is possible to have the sentence suspended pending the outcome of your appeal this tends to happen with some kinds of driving disqualifications. The appeal passed to the crown court will be heard by two lay magistrates and a crown court judge. There is a complete rehearing of all of the evidence presented by both the defence and the prosecution, and the crown court is free to make its own decision. There were more than 26,600 appeals from the Magistrates Court heard in the Crown Court between 2004 and 2008, and around 40 percent of those appeals were successful, so it is worth appealing.
If you need to make an appeal on a conviction made by the Crown Court then this is a more complex process. There is no automatic right to appeal, you can only do so if there was a mistake at the trial or if there has been some new evidence found which casts doubt on the existing conviction. Crown Court appeals are heard by the Court of Appeal which sits in London, and you will need to seek legal advice from a criminal appeals barrister to make sure that you are indeed able to appeal, and to ensure that the appeal goes as smoothly as possible.