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Guide for facing a wrongful conviction

If you think that you have been wrongfully convicted and a miscarriage of justice has taken place, you can try to overturn your conviction by submitting an appeal. Due to the nature and importance of appealing a conviction, it is important that you seek advice from a solicitor or legal representative before submitting your appeal.  

Making an appeal 

How you should make your appeal depends on the court in which you were convicted. Appeals from the Magistrates Court must be made between 21 days of the sentencing. If you miss this deadline, you can still request permission to appeal from the Crown Court.  

Appealing in the Crown Court must be done within 28 days of the conviction, if the appeal is against the conviction, or within 28 days of the sentencing, if the appeal is against the sentencing. If you do not appeal in time, you can apply for an extension. If there were no good reasons for the delay the court may not grant this extension and an applicant should show that they acted as quickly as possible.   

Appeals are typically submitted to the Registrar of Criminal Appeals using a Form NG. This should be accompanied by signed grounds of appeal. A judge will then decide whether or not to grant permission for the appeal to go ahead.  

If you granted permission to appeal your conviction or sentence, you will receive notice of when your appeal will be held in the Court of Appeal. 

Quashing a conviction or reducing a sentence 

It is important to note that the hearing in the Court of Appeal is not a Re-Trial. Instead, if you are appealing a wrongful conviction, you must satisfy the court that the conviction was unsafe. This can be shown through new evidence (evidence not available at your trial), showing that there were serious errors in your trial, or other substantial reason. Your legal representative or adviser can assist you on these points. 

If you are appealing to reduce a sentence, a judge will have to be convinced that the original sentence was manifestly excessive. It is useful to consider the guidelines which judges use when sentencing and whether these were followed in your case when considering the potential success of your appeal.  

Funding your appeal 

Legal aid will provide funding for advice and assistance should you meet the relevant means test. If you are not eligible for legal aid then you will have to instruct lawyers on a private basis.  

Appealing through the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC) 

If your appeal through the court has been successful, you can apply to the CCRC to make an appeal. The CCRC does not typically accept cases where an appeal has not already been made and this will only be done in exceptional circumstances based on the facts of you case.  

Can you sue for wrongful conviction? 

If your conviction is successfully overturned, you are able to claim compensation for the losses resulting from your wrongful conviction. This is capped at £500,000 or £1m where imprisonment exceeds over a decade. Although the Home Secretary is responsible for making the final decision as to where an applicant qualifies, the quantum of any payment is determined by an independent assessor. You can claim compensation if one of the following apply: 

  • Your appeal was successful and it was submitted 28 days or more after your conviction in the Crown Court, or 21 days or more after sentencing for a conviction in a magistrates court; 

  • your conviction was overturned after it was referred to the Court of Appeal by the Criminal Cases Review Commission (CCRC); or 

  • youve been granted a free pardon. 

 

Once an application is made, you will be required to send the following documents to the Miscarriages of Justice Applications Service (MoJAS):  

  • the form you used to appeal against your conviction (Form NG) 

  • the final version of your grounds of appeal (sometimes called perfected ground of appeal) 

  • the Court of Appeal judgment 

  • the Statement of Reasons from the CCRC 

The information on this website is intended as a guide and does not constitute legal advice. Vardags do not accept liability for any errors in the information on this website, nor any losses stemming from reliance upon the statements made herein. All articles and pages aim to reflect the legal position at time they were published, and may have been rendered obsolete by subsequent developments in the law. Should you require specialist advice, tailored to your situation, please see how Vardags can help you.

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