Appealing a Criminal Conviction or Sentence in Alberta: Your Legal Options

Appealing a Criminal Conviction or Sentence in Alberta: Your Legal Options

If you or a loved one has undergone a criminal trial and have received a sentence or conviction, you may be wondering about what to do next. Should you choose to appeal a case or criminal conviction, it will normally involve several steps.

Before undertaking an appeal, you may want to consult with a criminal lawyer. Together, you can assess your legal options and discuss the details of the appeals process. Contact us at Verhaeghe Law Office today to schedule a consultation.

Reasons to Appeal

Under the Criminal Code of Canada, you have the right to appeal a guilty verdict (known as a conviction appeal), the sentence you received (a sentence appeal), or other kinds of orders made against you during a criminal proceeding.

Ultimately, you may elect to appeal your case if one or more of the following is found:

  1. Errors of Fact: You believe the court made a factual error, which could include witness testimony or a lack of evidence.
  2. Errors of Law: You believe the court made a legal error when making its decision, such as a misrepresentation or misapplication of the law as it pertains to your case.
  3. Procedural Issues: You believe there were procedural mistakes made during your trial, which could include a failure to follow correct procedures or improper admissions of evidence.
  4. Sentence Appeal: You can appeal on these grounds if you believe that the sentence given is too severe or lenient.

Appeal Timelines, Courts, and Outcomes

It is important to note that there are strict deadlines when filing an appeal. Your first step should be to file a Notice of Appeal to the appropriate court within the given time limit or risk permanently losing the right to appeal. For most criminal matters, this deadline is 30 days from when the lower court made its decision. You may find the Notice to Appeal form on the Alberta Courts website.

You and your lawyers will then compile an Appeal Record, which will include trial transcripts, exhibits, and all necessary documentation. The court that hears your appeal will be determined based on which court heard your initial trial. In Alberta, criminal matters handled in the Court King’s Bench are appealed to three judges on the Court of Appeal. If you lose your appeal and want to take it to a higher court, it may then move to the Supreme Court of Canada.

Despite having the right to appeal, you are no longer presumed innocent under the eyes of the law once you have been found guilty in your initial trial. However, if you have received a jail sentence, an appeals court judge may order what is called a “bail pending appeal,” although this is not guaranteed.

An appellate court may only set aside a predetermined conviction if it is found that the judge made an error of law, there was a miscarriage of justice, or the verdict is rendered unreasonable and cannot be supported by the evidence presented.

Contact Us Today to Schedule a Consultation

When considering an appeal, you and your lawyer may review the grounds on which you want to appeal, relevant time limits, and legal costs. The appeals process is complex - to understand and navigate it successfully, you may want to seek legal counsel.

Our Edmonton criminal lawyers may be able to help you decide whether to appeal your conviction or sentence and help guide you through the process. Contact us to schedule a consultation today.

** Please note, this article is intended as a general overview on the subject of criminal law, and is not intended to be legal advice. If you are seeking legal advice, please consult with an Alberta criminal lawyer.

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