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Appeals from the District Court to the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal

The District Court of New South Wales generally deals with more serious crimes, including sexual assault, fraud, wounding and even manslaughter (but not murder). If you plead guilty, for...

Justin Wong

The District Court of New South Wales generally deals with more serious crimes, including sexual assault, fraud, wounding and even manslaughter (but not murder). If you plead guilty, for charges such as these the District Court will conduct your sentence hearing and determine your punishment. If you plead not guilty, the District Court will conduct your trial, ordinarily with a jury and will determine whether you are guilty or not guilty by way of a verdict.

In some instances, things don’t go right and you can be left feeling like you have received the incorrect outcome. What option do you have in those circumstances? Most commonly it is an appeal to the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal.

The NSW Court of Criminal appeal or NSWCCA is a division of the Supreme Court of NSW, which as the name suggests, deals with criminal appeals. It is ordinarily an appeal that goes before a bench of 3 Justices of the NSWCCA and on some rare occasions, 5 Justices.

Appeals to the NSWCCA are complex. Such appeals require you to show an error on behalf of the District Court who dealt with your trial and/or sentence. They are not simply a ‘second chance’ and if there is no error that can be identified and argued, then the NSWCCA will not grant ‘leave’ (or permission) for your appeal.

Before appeals to the NSWCCA can properly be considered, the file from the District Court, together with all transcripts and the judgments from the District Court need to be collated and examined to determine if any error exists. If one does, then an appeal can be filed.

If you are interested in appealing, it is imperative that within 28-days of your sentence, you file a document with the NSWCCA known as a Notice of Intention to Appeal or NIA. This document will extend the ‘filing’ period of an appeal from 28-days to 6 months (from the day of the filing of the NIA with the NSWCCA). This then results in the District Court file, transcripts and judgments being collected and sent to you or your solicitors for review.

If you feel you have received an incorrect outcome in the District Court, it is imperative that you take immediate steps to explore your options for appeal. Delays in filing a Notice of Intention to Appeal or the Notice of Appeal itself can result in an appeal being dismissed.

This article was written by our Senior Associate, Adam Faro who regularly provides advice and representation for people looking to explore appeals to the NSWCCA.