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There are two main types of appeal to the District Court, which are heard before a District Court judge. Those are:

  1. An appeal against a sentence imposed by a Local Court Magistrate whether it follows a defended hearing or a plea of guilty (known as a severity appeal);
  2. An appeal against a decision by a Local Court Magistrate that you are guilty of an offence following a defended hearing (known as a conviction appeal). A conviction appeal can also appeal sentence.

How do I lodge an Appeal?

A severity or conviction appeal can be lodged at either the registry of any Local Court or with the person in charge of the place where you are being held in custody.

A severity or conviction appeal must be lodged within 28 days after the sentence/conviction being imposed by the Magistrate. If the appeal is not lodged within 28 days, but before 3 months has elapsed, it is possible to apply to the District Court for leave to hear your severity or conviction appeal to proceed with your severity appeal.

What happens if I lodge an Appeal?

When an Appeal is lodged, any sentence, penalty or compensation, as well as any driver’s license disqualification or suspension, which arises as a consequence of the conviction, is stayed. The stay remains in force until the Appeal is finally determined. However, if you are sentenced to a term of imprisonment and refused bail, the gaol sentence continues to be in force. If the District Court affirms the decision of the Local Court then the days in custody on remand will count towards your sentence.

What happens at Court?

In the case of a severity appeal, the Director of Public Prosecutions will provide the judge with a bundle of documents including court attendance notices, police facts sheet, your criminal and traffic records, and any other documents that the magistrate had when they imposed the sentence including references. The judge will also be provided with the details of your sentence. You may be called to give evidence and fresh evidence can be tendered in support of your case.

In the case of a conviction appeal, the appeal is in most cases a rehearing on the basis of evidence given in the original Local Court proceedings. This means that an appeal will normally be determined by the Judge reading the transcript of the Local Court hearing followed by submissions made by your lawyer and the Director of Public Prosecutions. In order to call fresh evidence the leave of the District Court is needed. Leave will only be granted if the District Court is satisfied that it is in the interests of justice.

What happens at the end of the Appeal?

The District Court can:

  1. Quash the conviction and find you not guilty in the case of a conviction appeal;
  2. Set aside the sentence and vary the sentence in the case of a severity appeal;
  3. Dismiss the appeal and affirm the sentence or conviction.

Our 19 year old client was charged with supplying prohibited drugs and proceeds of crime in the amount of $1100 found in his vehicle. Our client denied that the money was proceeds of crime but rather it was funds legitimately obtained.

We pleaded not guilty to the proceeds of crime charge and the matter was listed for a defended hearing at Wollongong Local Court. We also prepared representations to the local area commander to withdraw the proceeds of crime offence and provided evidence that it was legitimately obtained. On the morning of the hearing, the prosecutor agreed to withdraw the proceeds of crime offence.

Our client was convicted by Magistrate Stoddart at sentencing in Wollongong Local Court.

We immediately lodged an to the Wollongong District Court. We were able to convince Judge Haesler that the supply offence only included our client sharing drugs with friends and that there was no exchange of money.

The Judge was impressed with all the rehabilitation our client undertook whilst on bail. The Judge agreed with our submission that a section 10 no conviction bond was appropriate for this case. Our client avoided a conviction on appeal.

Our client was sentenced in the Wollongong Local Court to 7 months full time custody for a fraud. Our client had prior convictions for fraud matters, this being taken into account by Magistrate Stoddart on sentencing in the local court. Our client’s family instructed us to represent our client in the Wollongong District Court. We had the matter listed for a bail application in the District Court prior to the appeal hearing date. We managed to get an urgent bail application listed within 48 hours. Bail was granted by Judge Haesler.

The matter proceeded to severity appeal before the District Court in June 2018.

We prepared a very strong subjective case including getting psychological material and ensuring our client undertook a few financial counselling courses. which we knew would asssit in his appeal. We were able to persuade Judge Haesler on the appeal to allow the appeal and deal with the matters by way of a community service order. The jail sentenced was quashed.

Our client was convicted of 2 counts of Driving Whilst Disqualified and 2 counts of possession of prohibited drugs. She was sentenced to a term of imprisonment of 6 months in total. We lodged an appeal to the District Court at the Downing Centre against the sentence imposed.

One of our dedicated solicitors appeared for our client at the District Court appeal hearing. We were able to successfully argue that the sentence imposed by the local court were manifestly excessive, and that the matters should be dealt with by non-custodial sentences.

We argued that our client’s personal circumstances, limited criminal history and good prospects of rehabilitation should be good reasons to allow the appeal.

Chief Judge Blanch agreed with our submissions, and released our client to a section 9 good behaviour bond for 12 months on all offences.

Our client was charged with common assault. It was alleged our client “king hit” the victim to back of the head during meelee at a football game causing the victim to collapse to the floor.

Our client was represented by a legal aid at Windsor local court and received a 6 month term of imprisonment to be served by way of intensive corrections order.

Our firm was instructed for the severity appeal listed at Penrith District Court.

Our solicitor persuaded Judge English that the local sentence was too severe and the client should be dealt with by way of a Section 10 given our clients remorse and contribution, good character and excellent prospects of rehabilitation.

The client was very impressive when called upon to give oral evidence at court.

Our solicitor relied on recent case law which held that more weight should be given to rehabilitation rather than deterrence when sentencing our client who was 19 years old when the offence was committed.

Judge English agreed and placed our client on a Section 10 bond for 12 months

Our client was unrepresented in the local court. She pleaded not guilty then changed her plea to guilty on the day of her hearing.

Her charges were two counts of larceny (stealing). The items stolen included identification cards and $50 from inside a wallet found in the women’s bathroom of a Darling Harbour night club. The items were returned but the facts indicated this was a planned offence.

In the local court she was convicted and fined $200 for each offence. We acted for our client in a severity appeal to the Sydney District Court. Our client did not want the stigma of a criminal conviction.

The appeal was heard before His Honour Judge Lerve. His Honour was initially against allowing our client the leniency of a section 10 and the solicitor from the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions made submissions against a section 10.

After hearing the argument put forward by our solicitor as to the ongoing punishment our client would suffer as a result of the convictions, particularly for offences of dishonesty, His Honour extended the leniency of a section 10(1)(b). Our client entered a bond for a period of 2 years which requires her to be of good behaviour.

This was a great result for our client.

Our client was represented by another firm of lawyers in Liverpool Local Court in mid 2014.

He was charged with assault occasioning actual bodily harm, following an assault upon his partner resulting in injuries to the back of her head.

He was sentenced to a term of full time imprisonment by Magistrate Degnan at Liverpool Local Court. His family then approached us to take over the case on appeal. We lodged an appeal immediately, then successfully getting our client bail the very next day.

We then set out on preparing the case for appeal, obtaining crucial evidence of our client’s problem with depression, his grief issues having his father passing away when he was a teenager, and many other strong subjective personal circumstances that were not presented to the Magistrate in Liverpool Local Court when he was sentenced.

The case appeared at Parramatta District Court, a few weeks later, before Judge Sides.

Our client entered the witness box and gave evidence of all of his personal circumstances, and importantly, his genuine remorse for his actions.

Judge Sides allowed the appeal, re-sentencing our client to a 12 month Intensive Corrections Order.

An excellent result for our client.

Case Study – Assault Police, Resist Police, client escapes conviction on appeal

Our client came to LY Lawyers after a defended hearing gone wrong in the Local Court. She was convicted by the Magistrate of Assaulting Police and Resisting Arrest and put on a good behaviour bond under section 9.

An appeal was lodged on both severity and conviction ground. After receiving advice, our client gave us instructions to proceeded on a severity basis only. After obtaining all the documents we needed, our solicitor was successful on appeal and our client was placed on a bond under section 10(1)(b) for 18 months for both assaulting Police and resiting Police, despite the strong objections from the Director of Public Prosecution.

Judge Sides of Parramatta District Court agreed with our submissions and proceeded to dismiss the charges.

This was a particularly good result as the assault was instigated by our client after Police were leaving the scene.

Our client had been sentenced to 12 months imprisonment for Assault Occasioning Actual Bodily Harm. Our solicitors decided to appeal the severity of the sentence so the case was referred to the Broken Hill District court in May 2015 to be heard by Justice Norrish.

Our solicitor argued that the local sentence was too severe and pointed to the fact that our client had completed drug and alcohol counselling as well as anger management courses.

As a result our client obtained very good reports from both of these courses, showing that he had made a determined effort to amend for past mistakes.

Justice Norrish upon hearing all of the submissions from the solicitor determined that we had presented an entirely new case and agreed with our contention that the initial sentence was too severe, and proceeded to place our client on a suspended sentence for 18 months.

Our client was able to avoid imprisonment completely, the best possible outcome.

Our client came to us having pleaded guilty to knowingly take part in supply of less than 27 grams of cannabis and dealing with money reasonably believed to be proceeds of crime – $880.00 in a sip lock bag with the cannabis.

Our client was convicted in the local court and he wanted to appeal.

The facts were:

  • Our client was arrested in his car with someone in the car;
  • The Police searched the car and located 27 grams of cannabis;
  • The cannabis was in two separate zip lock bags. One bag had small amounts of cannabis in smaller zip lock bags already separated;
  • The Police also found scales in the car;
  • The Police found a piece of paper with names and numbers;

On appeal our client gave evidence of his drug use. He had rehabilitated his drug addiction, although not with some hiccups. He was studying and wanted to become a chartered accountant.

Our client was successful in his appeal and was sentenced to two section 10 bonds for 18 months. He remains free of any criminal conviction.