What happens at a criminal appeal?

>>>What happens at a criminal appeal?

An appeal is not a new trial where you are allowed to present your defence a second time with the hope of obtaining a different result. Rather, an appeal allows you to go before a higher court to argue that on the basis of the transcript and the evidence tendered at your first trial, that it is evident the trial judge made a legal error or a decision that was unreasonable. You may argue, for example, that the judge interpreted or applied the law incorrectly, and that, as a result, they arrived at the “wrong” decision.

If you are appealing your sentence alone, you may argue that the sentence you received is unfit because the judge applied the law incorrectly, or that your sentence is disproportionately harsh relative to the offence you were found guilty of committing.

If, after your conviction, you discover evidence that is relevant to your guilt or innocence that was not put before the court at your first trial, you may be able to use that evidence as the basis for your appeal. However, it is not always easy to introduce evidence to appeal your decision. If you want to introduce new evidence the court will have to consider a number of factors, specifically:

  • Is the evidence credible and believable?
  • Is it relevant to issues at trial?
  • If it were added to the other evidence presented at trial, could it reasonably be expected to affect the decision?
  • Could it have been admitted in trial if the defence had been diligent?

If the fresh evidence is accepted by the appeal court, a new trial will be ordered and you will no longer be convicted but charged of the offence until you are either found guilty or acquitted in the new trial.

Possible Outcomes of a Criminal Appeal:


The best possible outcome for an appeal is an acquittal, or a finding that a conviction cannot be supported on the basis of the evidence that was presented at trial.

A new trial is ordered:

A new trial will be ordered where the reviewing court finds that the first trial was not conducted properly. For example, this can be because the trial judge made a mistake when interpreting and applying the law to your case, or when there is reason to believe that the judge was biased. If a new trial is ordered, you case will be sent back and retried.  If a new trial is ordered, your conviction for the alleged offence will also be vacated, but you will remain charged with the offence until a verdict is reached in the new trial.

An acquittal is substituted for a finding of guilt:

The reviewing court can also decide that after considering the evidence that was presented in your trial, that is is clear that the trial judge made a mistake by acquitting you. The appeal court will then vacate your acquittal and declare that you were found guilty of the crime. However, this happens very rarely and if it does, you are automatically granted leave to appeal to the Supreme Court of Canada.

The sentenced is varied:

If you appealed your sentence, you may receive a new sentence that is more or less severe, or you can have certain aspects of your sentence changed. For example, ancillary orders that accompanied the initial sentence like a DNA order or a firearms prohibition may be removed, or the time that you are served in prison can be increased, decreased, or completely eliminated.

The appeal is dismissed:

Your appeal will be dismissed when the appeal court finds that the trial judge’s decision was reasonable in light of the evidence and the arguments that were presented at trial. In such an event, the trial judge’s decision and sentence will be restored.

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Disclaimer: All results of cases handled by the lawyer/firm are not provided. The results provided are not necessarily representative of results obtained by the lawyer/firm or of the experience of all clients or others with the lawyer/firm. Every case is different, and each client’s case must be evaluated and handled on its own merits.

All our 30-60 minute free consultations are conducted with one of our Criminal Defence Lawyers and include the following steps:

  1. Gathering of some personal information about you, such as your level of education, occupation, and citizenship status. This information can be crucial for building your defence and seeking a resolution with the Crown Prosecutor;
  2. Careful review of all documents you received from the police. We will explain what each document is, and what you can expect from and need to do for all upcoming appearances;
  3. Critical review of your recollection of events, and any supporting materials you choose to bring with you. This step helps us identify possible defences and avenues for further investigation; and
  4. Discussion of the court process, our fee structure, and what we can do to help.

Beyond these steps, we would be happy to tell you more about us, and answer any questions you may have. If you chose to retain us to help you, we will immediately provide an overview of what steps we plan to take next, and suggestions as to what you should do to improve your chances of a successful outcome.

For the free initial consultation to be as productive as possible, you should bring (or email in advance) the following materials:

  • A written statement (preferably typed) outlining your version of events;
  • All documents that you have been given by the court or by the police;
  • Any disclosure you have received;
  • Photo ID; and
  • Any supporting documents, such as photographs, emails, texts, phone records, medical records, receipts, etc.

Ideally, you will have prepared a copy of these materials for us to keep, but if not, we can always photocopy them during the consultation.

We offer flexible payment options and structures designed to meet our clients’ individual needs. Our lawyers accept all major credit cards, bank drafts, money orders, email money transfers (e-transfers) and, of course, cash.

If you decide to retain us after the free initial consultation, all we need is a retainer (down payment) to get started. The rest of the fee payments for the case can be spaced out over time. We can set you up on a monthly or bi-monthly payment plan, and process payments over the telephone or by email to make it easy for you.

The cost of a criminal defence lawyer will depend on several factors, including:

  1. how complex your case is,
  2. how serious the charges are, and
  3. how experienced the Criminal Defence lawyer is.

The fees of a competent Criminal Defence Lawyer will typically range into the thousands of dollars. The good news is that only a fraction of that amount is due initially. We offer flexible payment schedules so thefees can be paid in monthly installments.

Additionally, we offer flat rate fees, with no hidden costs. It is our standard practice to review all the costs during the free initial consultation. This means you will know exactly what our services cost at the outset and can make an informed decision about how to proceed.