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Sprake Song & Konye: Helping You Overturn Your Conviction

Did you know that you have the right to appeal a decision of a trial court? Whether you need to launch an appeal from a guilty verdict, respond to an appeal launched by the Crown, apply for bail pending appeal, or appeal an administrative decision, we’re here for you.

We’ve provided some basic information on the appeal process below.

Sprake Song & Konye can help get your conviction overturned.

How Do Appeals Work?

When you appeal a decision, you are asking a higher court to review the court proceedings below to determine whether there were any errors justifying a reversal of the decision.

Perhaps your trial was conducted unfairly, or the judge applied the law incorrectly to your case. Perhaps the evidence presented wasn’t considered properly, or was insufficient to result in a conviction. Other appeals may be made on the basis that you had poor legal representation.

There are a wide variety of types of appeals, but it’s important to remember that an appeal is not a re-trial. New witnesses or new evidence are rarely presented.

The majority of appeals are largely won or lost on the quality of your “factum” – the written argument on appeal. An appeal will only have a chance to succeed if legal arguments are carefully crafted in a factum before oral argument. In modern appellate advocacy, the critical importance of a persuasive factum cannot be underestimated.

Although your lawyer at trial may have examined witnesses and presented argument over the course of many weeks or even months, on appeal, oral argument is ordinarily constrained by formal time limits (in Alberta it is usually 45 minutes, in the Supreme Court of Canada it is usually one hour). Although the British Columbia Court of Appeal does not have formal time limits, good appellate counsel in B.C. keep their oral arguments clear and concise.  Hence, all of the work on appeal is directed towards researching legal issues and writing a comprehensive and complete factum that is aimed to persuade the court of appeal.

The oral argument is usually presented before three presiding justices of the Court of Appeal. The Supreme Court of Canada usually hears appeals with five, seven or nine justices sitting.

Timelines for Appeals

From the date on which the judge sentences you, you will have 30 days to file a Notice of Appeal in the court of appeal. This deadline applies to both conviction and sentence appeals. Late filing may be permitted with leave of the court.

The party appealing the decision is the “appellant” and the party defending the decision is the “respondent.”

Next, transcripts of the trial and “appeal books” containing the record of the proceedings below must be ordered.

The length of time that it takes for the appeal books and transcripts to be readied varies with the complexity and length of the proceedings in the lower court, but it is not unusual to wait a few months for these materials to be completed.

Once the appeal books and transcripts are filed with the court, you will have to file your “factum” containing your argument and foundation for the appeal.

After the factum is completed and filed, the Crown, the respondent, will have time to review your argument and file a factum responding to your appeal.  Other third parties called “interveners” may also apply to participate in the appeal, though this is more common in appeals at the Supreme Court of Canada.

Once all parties have filed their respective factums, the court of appeal will schedule a date for your hearing. Your hearing date could be as long as a year from the time you initially filed your Notice of Appeal.

Ordinarily, your appeal will be heard by three justices of the court of appeal. To succeed, at least two members of the panel/division (a majority) must agree that your conviction should be overturned.

Bail Pending Appeal

While we cannot provide any assurances, it’s possible to secure bail while your appeal is before the court of appeal. However, on a conviction appeal, you are no longer presumed innocent, and instead, you a presumed guilty until the hearing of the appeal. This presumption of guilt works against your chances of obtaining bail pending appeal.

Bail pending appeal depends on three main factors:

  1. The court must be satisfied that a successful appeal is possible and that your arguments are not frivolous.
  2. The court must be satisfied that you will surrender yourself by the hearing date.
  3. The court must be satisfied that detention is not necessary in the public interest.

Bail pending appeal applications can take significant time to prepare, so it’s vital to contact Sprake Song & Konye as soon as possible to ensure that your application is heard in a timely fashion.

Types of Appeals

There is a difference between conviction appeals and sentence appeals.

To get your conviction overturned, Sprake Song & Konye will challenge whether you should have been found guilty at trial.

To get your sentence varied, we will challenge the type and length of sentence the judge imposed.

We are able to seek to appeal either the conviction, the sentence, or both.

Representing Clients Across Canada

Every province is a little different. Sprake Song & Konye are experienced in representing clients before the Alberta Court of Appeal, the British Columbia Court of Appeal, and the Supreme Court of Canada.

Sprake Song & Konye: Experienced in Criminal Law Appeals

We are a firm of driven, professional, and ethical lawyers. Whether you need to apply for bail pending appeal, get your conviction overturned, or get your sentence varied, we have the experience and expertise you need. Don’t let an unfair conviction or sentence damage your livelihood.

Remember, if you’ve already been convicted and sentenced, you have options. Sprake Song & Konye can help you overturn your conviction and sentencing and get back to your life. Call us today and get your life back.