Defendants convicted of any kind of sentence, including a custodial sentence, have the right to appeal against the decision. If a prisoner is convicted at the Crown Court, for example, they may launch an appeal against the sentence at the Court of Appeal, and they do this by completing form NG to the Crown Court concerned within a period of not more than 28 days. The reasons for the appeal need to accompany the form and a single judge in the Court of Appeal will decide whether to go forward with the appeal case.
There is a great range of possible reasons why an appeal may be launched against the original sentence passed, and some of these involve safety mechanisms whereby the Court of Appeal ensures that the court that passed the sentence was acting within the law. Mistakes can be, and sometimes are, made by judges in the Crown Court not through any malicious intent but simply because there are so many complex statutes, things can slip past them. The Court of Appeal then catches these so that justice is done.
Where there is a dispute regarding the facts of the case, and the sentencing judge has not made it obvious to all parties which if any version he has accepted, then the Court of Appeal will uphold a defendant’s appeal against sentence.
Where the sentencing judge has possibly taken account of factors essentially irrelevant to the case, and has made these clear in his comments during court proceedings, it may be used to mount an effective appeal. Other factors for an appeal might include errors of fact and inadmissible evidence relied upon during the hearing, as well as the defence gaining access to new information bearing on the case, such as scientific advances. A prison governor might have something to say regarding the defendant’s good behaviour whilst in custody that could also form a basis for an appeal.
There have been cases where a successful appeal has been mounted because a co-defendant had been given a different sentence, and the crucial point here is that the sentence may have been wrong in principle and incompatible with the proper administration of justice.
Sometimes the defendant can claim that he or she was clearly not eligible to receive a prison sentence for the alleged crime that was committed. A ‘manifestly excessive’ sentence is one which goes beyond the limits set in the licensing guidelines for that particular offence, rather than being one which is merely severe.
Other grounds for appealing against a custodial sentence might be the youthful age or the state of mind of the offender, as a prison sentence would not be appropriate under certain circumstances here, and treatment might be recommended instead.
Crime solicitors at Duncan Lewis are happy to supply expert information about these and many other legal matters.