a)Describe the different appeal routes available to the defence from the Magistrates’ court and the Crown Court (18 marks)
An appeal to the Crown Court can be made by a defendant. However this can only be pursued if he or she appeals against their sentence and if their original plea was ‘not guilty’ or appeal against their conviction. There is no need for leave, as the defendant has an automatic right to appeal. By appealing, the case is then reheard by judge and two magistrates. Following this, they have the power to confirm the conviction, reverse the decision and acquit the defendant or vary the conviction and find the defendant guilty of a lesser offence. In relation the sentence, they can either to choose to confirm it, increase (only to magistrates’ maximum; 6 months) or decrease.
Appeals of cases stated to the Queen’s Bench Division can only occur when there is a point of law to be questioned, either sent directly from the Magistrates’ or from an appeal to Crown Court. The Divisional court may confirm, vary or reverse the decision or send the case back to the Magistrates’ Court for them to apply the interpretation of the law.
Additionally, under the Criminal Appeal Act of 1995, the defendant can also appeal the Court of Appeal if the appeal is against their conviction or sentence. In order to appeal to this court, leave is a requirement, however only 30% of defendants get leave. The defendant can also appeal if the conviction is deemed as ‘unsafe.’ The end of result of the appeal can consist of the conviction being quashed, vary the conviction to lesser offence or change the sentence, or even order to retrial to be made.
On top of this, further appeals can also be made to the Supreme Court, previously known as the House of Lords. This can be done so as the defence have the right to appeal from the Divisional Court or the Court of Appeal, however under the conditions of that the appeal involves a point of law of public importance and he/she has permission.