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      If you have been convicted and sentenced in the Local Court, you have the right to appeal to the District Court. There are two types of appeals. You can appeal against the sentence imposed – this is called a severity appeal. Or you can appeal against the finding of guilt – known as a conviction appeal.

      Severity appeals

      If you believe that the sentence imposed in the Local Court is too severe you may wish to lodge a severity appeal. A severity appeal can be lodged within 28 days of being sentenced at any Local Court registry. If 28 days has already passed you may still appeal up until 3 months after being sentenced however, you need the courts permission to do so.

      Severity appeals are normally listed within about 6 weeks of the appeal being lodged. At a severity appeal hearing a lawyer from the DPP will provide the Judge with all of the material that was available to the Local Court. This means that the agreed facts in the matter, and any references or subjective material provided by you, will be tendered for the Judge to review. In a severity appeal you can also provide additional evidence. In some cases, you may wish to give evidence yourself.

      Both the DPP lawyer and your lawyer then make submissions to the Judge about the appropriate penalty. The Judge then makes a determination. If the Judge is considering increasing the penalty, they will indicate this to you. This is known as a ‘Parker warning’ or a ‘Parker direction’. You may then decide to withdraw your severity appeal rather than risk an increased penalty.

      Conviction appeals

      If you believe that you should not have been found guilty after a hearing in the Local Court, you may lodge a conviction appeal. A conviction appeal is subject to the same time limits as a severity appeal. That is 28 days without the court’s permission and up to 3 months with the court’s permission.

      A conviction appeal is a rehearing of the evidence that was before the Local Court. Transcripts of the Local Court proceedings are ordered, and these are reviewed by a Judge in the District Court. After a conviction appeal is lodged there is usually one or more ‘mention dates’ in the District Court. These court appearances are to ensure that the transcripts are ready and to allocate a date on which your appeal will be heard.

      Unlike a severity appeal, you can only call further evidence in a conviction appeal with the permission of the court. Permission will only be granted where it is in the interests of justice.

      Stay of penalty pending an appeal

      Upon lodging a severity or conviction appeal any penalty is stayed. That means that it is put on hold and does not apply until your appeal is determined. Common examples of this are fines or periods of disqualification. These are all stayed pending the outcome of an appeal. The exception to this is a penalty of disqualification where there was already an immediate police suspension in place. In that situation you would continue to be suspended until the appeal is determined.

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