The Office of Public Prosecutions’ (OPP) expertise in appellate work was brought under one management structure in 2011 to ensure a coordinated strategic approach to appeal issues. Appeals solicitors undertake appellate work in the County Court, the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the High Court, in both the civil and criminal jurisdictions. They deal with offences ranging from exceeding the prescribed speed limit to murder.
Role of Appeals
Appeals solicitors prepare and conduct criminal appeals on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) in the County Court, Court of Appeal and High Court. They also prepare appeals that are conducted in the civil jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
Appeals can be initiated by a range of parties:
A convicted offender can appeal against conviction or sentence, or both. These appeals make up most of the work of the Appeals solicitors.
The DPP can appeal against the sentence.
The DPP will consider requests from a victim, their family or a concerned citizen to appeal to the Supreme Court on a matter of law in summary matters from the Magistrates’ Court.
The DPP can request a review of a decision in the Magistrates’ Court to the Supreme Court, if the decision infringes jurisdiction or procedural fairness. Many of these appeals are in drink driving and other road or traffic matters.
The DPP can also apply for leave to appeal to the High Court against a decision of the Court of Appeal relating to either conviction or sentence.
Appeals solicitors undertake detailed analysis of complex legal issues after looking at the Judges Charge to the jury and anaylysing the evidence at trial.
Throughout the appeal process, Appeals staff liaise with a range of stakeholders including victims, witnesses, police, counsel, Crown Prosecutors, the DPP, legal representatives of the offender, and the Witness Assistance Service (WAS).
Appeals staff work with a dedicated team of Crown Prosecutors in the Court of Appeal and the High Court, and with OPP Solicitor Advocates in appeals to the County Court. Counsel from the Victorian Bar are also briefed by Appeals staff.
Victorian legislation governing appeals
Chapter 6 of the Criminal Procedure Act 2009 sets out the provisions relating to appeals.