Appeal against a magistrates’ court conviction

Appealing a conviction or sentence made by the Magistrates’ Court is normally done by applying to the Crown Court. However, there may be circumstances that allow you to return to the Magistrates’ Court to ask for the conviction to be set aside (case reopened) or for a statutory declaration to be made (for example, if you were not aware of the proceedings and you were convicted and sentenced in your absence).

If you want to appeal a conviction or sentence from the Magistrates’ Court, this will take place at the Crown Court. If it is a conviction appeal, the original trial at the Magistrates’ Court will be heard afresh at the Crown Court with any new evidence that you or the prosecution seek to rely upon. If it is a sentence appeal, a Crown Court Judge will consider the sentence made by the court to determine if it was correct.

This stage would involve making an application to reopen the case or attending court to make a statutory declaration.



    • Call fresh evidence – where the grounds of appeal rely on fresh evidence that was not cited during the trial, whether that is provided by a witness or documentary or real. 
    • Insufficient weight – where the grounds of appeal are against a sentence due to the Judge giving insufficient weight to the assistance given to the prosecution authorities. 
  • Change in law – where the grounds of appeal are based on a change in law meaning a conviction is ‘unsafe’ or you will suffer ‘substantial injustice’

If there are reasonable grounds, grounds of appeal should be drafted, signed and sent to instructing solicitors as soon as possible. Grounds of appeal must include the following information:

    • Specifications of what you want to appeal, either:
      • The conviction, verdict or finding,
      • The sentence, or
      • The order, or the failure to make an order
    • Each ground of appeal on which you rely
    • The transcript that you think the court will need
    • The relevant sentencing powers of the Crown Court – if a sentence is the issue
    • Applications for the following, with reasons:
      • Permission to appeal, if you need the court’s permission
      • An extension of time within which to serve the appeal notice
      • Bail pending appeal
      • A direction to attend in person a hearing that you could attend by live link, if you are in custody
      • The introduction of evidence, including hearsay evidence and evidence of bad character
      • An order requiring a witness to attend court
      • A direction for special measures for a witness
      • A direction for special measures for giving your evidence
  • Any other document or thing that you think the court will need to decide the appeal

Grounds of appeal should also set out the relevant facts and nature of the proceedings, covering:

    • A summary of the grounds
    • An event or decision that relates to each ground of appeal
    • A summary of the facts relevant to each ground of appeal
    • Each argument in relation to each ground of appeal
    • Any relevant authority, the proposition of law they demonstrate and the parts of the authority that support the proposition
  • How each ground of appeal relates to the reasons for the reference, if the Criminal Cases Review Commission have referred the case 



The appeal will usually be considered by a single Judge; however, in certain cases a Respondent’s Notice may be called upon. A Respondent’s Notice should set out the grounds of opposition to an appeal and must be served within 14 days – if a case is urgent, a shorted deadline may be imposed.

A Respondent’s Notice will always be served if conviction and/or sentence application involve:

    • A fatality
    • Rape, attempted rae or a serious sexual offence
    • A CPC Complex Casework Unit dealt with the case
  • An offence was perverting the course of justice, misconduct in public office and any conspiracy

Other circumstances that might call for a Respondent’s Notice to be served include:

    • Where the grounds of appeal concern matters that were subject of public interest immunity (PII)
    • Where there are allegations of jury irregularity
    • Where there are criticisms of the prosecution or the conduct of the judge
    • Cases involving complex frauds
    • Cases involving inconsistent verdicts
    • When fresh evidence is available
  • Where the grounds claim that the wrong statute, rule or regulation was applied


A single Judge may grant the application for leave, refuse an appeal or refer it to the full court. In conviction cases and, where appropriate, in sentence cases, a Judge may grant limited leave, i.e. leave to argue some grounds but not others. You will be notified of any refused grounds within 14 days. 

You can also be granted bail by a single Judge, the full court or by a trial or sentencing Judge who has certified the case fit for appeal. An application for bail will not be considered until a notice application for leave to appeal or notice of appeal has been granted. Where bail is granted, the court may attach conditions that must be met before you are released. 

In circumstances where an appeal has been refused, an application can be renewed within 14 days.

Once you have been granted the opportunity to appeal, your appeal will be reviewed by the necessary parties. If you win your conviction appeal, you will be found not guilty. If you are successful with your sentence appeal, it is likely that the sentence will be reduced. If you lose your appeal, your original sentence may increase and you may have to pay additional prosecution costs

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