An offender may appeal against their conviction or the length of their sentence. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) may only appeal against a sentence imposed. If there is an appeal, it will be to the Court of Appeal, and in some cases to the High Court of Australia.
You will not need to give evidence at any appeal hearings, but the evidence you have given and your Victim Impact Statement will be available to the appeal court. You are entitled to attend appeal hearings to listen to the appeal being argued or the decision being given; however, an appeal is very different to the trial. It involves legal and technical discussions on the law.
An offender has the right to appeal against their conviction (guilty verdict) and/or the length of their sentence.
They have 28 days from the date they are sentenced to lodge an appeal but in certain circumstances they may be able to get an extension of time.
If the DPP believes that a sentence is too low, the DPP may appeal against the length of that sentence. The sentence must be considered by the DPP to be ‘manifestly inadequate’.
The DPP is not able to appeal against a not-guilty verdict.
Court of Appeal Hearings
Appeal hearings take place in the Court of Appeal, which is the highest court in Victoria.
The possible results of an appeal by the convicted offender against sentence are that:
the appeal is dismissed and the sentence stands
the appeal is dismissed and the sentence is increased
the appeal is allowed and the sentence is reduced.
The possible results of an appeal against conviction are that:
the appeal is dismissed and the conviction stands
the appeal is allowed. If this happens the judge can order a re-trial or, if there is a substantial miscarriage of justice, the judge may set aside the conviction.
If you are a victim or witness in the matter, you will be told by someone from the prosecution – the police informant, Office of Public Prosecutions' (OPP) solicitor or the Witness Assistance Service (WAS) worker – if the offender has lodged an appeal against their conviction and/or sentence. You will also be told the date of any hearings and the results of the appeal, unless you have indicated that you do not wish to be so informed.
If a retrial is ordered, you will be told about this by the OPP solicitor or the WAS worker. They will confirm with you the date and time of the second trial. If you were a witness at the first trial, it is possible that you will be called to give evidence again.
If you have any questions about the appeals process you can ask the OPP solicitor or contact the Witness Assistance Service on 1800 641 927 or 9603 7425.
Request for the DPP to appeal against sentence
If you think the original sentence given by the judge is too lenient you can write to the DPP and set out your reasons and ask for an appeal.
The DPP is only able to appeal in very limited circumstances – where the sentence is considered to be ‘manifestly inadequate’. Only a small proportion of sentences are appealed.
The DPP must file the appeal papers in the court within one month of the sentence. If you want to write to the DPP you need to do so as soon as possible after the sentence is imposed or it may be too late to lodge an appeal.
Address your letter to:
Director of Public Prosecutions
565 Lonsdale Street