Appeals to the Crown Court

updated: 17/10/2018|Legal Guidance

Circumstances in which to Appeal

A defendant and a prosecutor (in particular circumstances) may appeal to the Crown Court.

A defendant may appeal:

  • Against sentence after a guilty plea and after a not guilty plea against conviction, against a finding of guilt or against sentence;
  • Where a magistrates' court makes a hospital order or guardianship order without convicting the defendant;
  • Where the magistrates' court revokes a community order and deals with the defendant in another way;
  • Where the magistrates' court decides that an offence has a terrorist connection;
  • where the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) refers a conviction or sentence in a summary only offence;

A person (not only a defendant) may appeal:

  • where he or she is bound over to keep the peace;
  • where detained, committed to prison or fined for contempt in the face of the court.
  • a wasted costs order (i.e. against a legal representative);
  • a third party costs order;
  • a decision of a magistrates' court making a football banning order;
  • a decision of a magistrates' court making a parenting order.

A prosecutor may appeal:

  • against a failure by a magistrates' court to make a football banning order;
  • against any decision of the magistrates' court in proceedings for an offence relating to customs or excise;

Procedure on Appeal

The procedure for appeals to the Crown Court is governed by Criminal Procedure Rules Part 34. These can be found at http://www.justice.gov.uk/courts/procedure-rules/criminal/rulesmenu-2015 together with the prescribed forms.

These rules provide a certain formality in appeals to the Crown Court. Clearly, the rules in Part 3 and the duties of the parties apply to appeals in the Crown Court.

Notice of Appeal

This is governed by rule 34.2. The appellant must serve a notice of appeal (whether the usual form or the easy read form, both of which have been prescribed by the Lord Chief Justice) on the court and the CPS (i.e. the respondent) within 21 days of the decision appealed. The time period may be extended. The appellant must also give reasons for an extension of time, bail pending appeal or suspension of any disqualification imposed.

Respondent's Notice

From 1st October 2018 the CPS must serve a respondent's notice (RN) (this is a prescribed form) on the court and the appellant not more than 21 days after service of the appeal notice unless the CPS agrees that the court should allow the appeal. The RN is required where there is an appeal against conviction or a finding of guilt and not against sentence. The purpose of this change to the rules is to require the appellant and respondent to give the Crown Court as much information as possible about the appeal. The objective is to help the Crown Court arrange an effective appeal hearing.

Rule 34.3 sets out the requirements of what the RN should contain. It must identify the witnesses who gave oral evidence and those whose statements were read; which witnesses the respondent proposes to call; notice of any special arrangements or measures required for the witnesses; identify the issues and how long the magistrates' court trial lasted and a time estimate for the appeal. This information should be easily obtained from the CPS Case Management System (CMS).

The RN form has been added to CMS. It is located in the Appeal Brief pack and is called Respondent's Notice Appeal Conviction. This needs to be completed by the PO (with legal assistance where required). At the time the RN is completed the brief to counsel/advocate should also be prepared.

Importantly, where evidence was introduced in the magistrates' court that required an application such as hearsay, bad character etc. and the CPS wants to reintroduce it or to renew the application it must be included in the respondent notice [rule 34.3(3) and (4)]. The result of this is that no new application need be made [rule 34.7(2) (a)]. The same applies for any notice of objection served by the defence in the magistrates' court [rule 34.7(2) (b)].

However, if it is not included in the RN then an application must be made within 14 days after receiving the appeal notice. Where the CPS wants to make an application for an order or to introduce evidence which was not given in the Court below then it must be made within 14 days of receiving the appeal notice [rule 34.7(4)].

The time limits of 14 days and 21 days may be extended by the Court [rule 34.10].

[Please note: the time limit of 14 days in rule 34.7(4) will be amended in due course to 21 days to ensure consistency. In the meantime, the prosecution, if necessary, should ask the Court to extend the time to 21 days in the RN form (at question 15). There is no reason whatsoever for the Court not to extend time because there will be no prejudice to the appellant and it is consistent with rule 34.7(2) and the prescribed RN form].

Duty of the magistrates' court officer

Rule 34.4 requires the magistrates' court officer to provide the Crown Court with all relevant material relating to the trial including all material and notices served on the Court by the parties.

Case Management Hearings

The Crown Court may conduct a Case Management Hearing in an appeal where it is necessary to give directions for effective determination of the appeal or such a hearing is required to set ground rules for questioning of a witness or appellant [rule 34.7(1)]. Any such hearing can be conducted by the judge sitting alone (see below).

Abandonment

An appellant may abandon before the appeal begins by giving notice to the parties and the Court. Leave of the Court is required if it is abandoned after the appeal has begun [rule 34.9].

Hearing and decision

The general rule is that appeals are heard in public but may order any hearing to be in private [rule 34.8(1)(a)]. A hearing about PII must be in private [rule 34.8(1)(b)].

Constitution of the Court

As a general rule the hearing of the appeal must be heard by a judge and no less than two or more than four magistrates [rule 34.11(1)].

Before the hearing of an appeal a Judge sitting alone may exercise the powers regarding Case Management Hearings and in deciding whether to state a case [rule 34.11(3)].

Criminal Cases Review Commission

Cases referred by the CCRC are dealt with by the Appeals and Review Unit, whose email address is SCD.Appeals@cps.gsi.gov.uk.