Appealing against your
Most road traffic cases are heard in the Magistrates' Court but if you appeal then your appeal will be heard in the Crown Court.
Is it easy to appeal?
It is easy to appeal but you must lodge a Notice of Appeal in writing within 21 days of the Magistrates' decision. If you wait longer than 21 days you may still be able to appeal but you will require a convincing explanation for the delay.
What can I appeal against?
If you pleaded guilty in the Magistrates' court you cannot change your mind and plead not guilty when you appeal, you can only appeal against your sentence, not against the conviction itself. If you pleaded not guilty in the Magistrates' court you can appeal against the conviction or the sentence or both.
The appeal is heard by a Crown Court Judge sitting with two Magistrates.
In the case of an appeal against conviction the Crown Court will need to be satisfied that the Magistrates' Court came to the wrong decision on the evidence. On an appeal against sentence, the Court will need to be persuaded that the sentence was unjustified and disproportionate to the offence.
What happens if I appeal?
If you appeal, the Crown Court will hold a fresh hearing of your case. If you are appealing against conviction, then each side can use the same evidence as before. If your appeal is against sentence you can use the same mitigation and explanations as you did in the Magistrates' Court.
What happens if I win my appeal?
If you win the appeal, the conviction is quashed or the sentence is reduced, but you will not get any compensation for the inconvenience or loss you have suffered.
What happens if I lose my appeal?
If you lose the appeal and the Court finds against you again, the original conviction or sentence will stand and there will usually be some extra costs for you to pay.
What are the risks of appealing?
Many people are unhappy with the penalties imposed by Magistrates Courts, but it is important to remember that as well as quashing a conviction or reducing a sentence, the judge and magistrates are also entitled to impose a harsher or different sentence and may also make you pay the prosecution's costs if they consider that you should not have brought the appeal in the first place.
Taking advice promptly after the Magistrates' Court hearing is very important to help avoid these risks.
Are there other ways to appeal?
If the Magistrate made an error of law, rather than of fact it may be appropriate to take your appeal to the High Court rather than the Crown Court.
This is frequently described as an appeal requiring the Magistrates to "state a case" for the opinion of the High Court. If the High Court considers the Magistrates got the law wrong, the conviction can either be quashed, or the case sent back for rehearing.
Is there a way to appeal again if I lose my appeal or have been given a harsher sentence?
No, there is no further right of appeal after you have appealed to the Crown Court from the Magistrates' Court.
What if my original case was held in the Crown Court?
If your case was heard in the Crown Court then you may appeal to the high court.