Court of Appeal – Crown Appeal Against Sentence

The Crown can appeal against a sentence decision.

The Director of Public Prosecution may appeal against sentence if it is considered that there is an error in the sentence imposed and is satisfied that it is in the public interest to do so.

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How a Crown appeal works

The DPP on a Crown Appeal must establish that the sentence imposed was ‘manifestly inadequate’.

The DPP must file notice of appeal within 28 days or can apply for an extension of time under the Criminal Procedure Act 2009.

The Crown must follow a similar procedure than that as the accused person: they must file the appeal papers along with a written case setting out all the grounds of appeal and arguments that support those grounds as to why the Director of Public Prosecutions submits that the sentence imposed was manifestly inadequate.

Within 7 days of filing the appeal papers and written case, those same documents will be served on the respondent by the Director of Public Prosecutions. The respondent will then be given an opportunity to respond to the arguments put forward by the Director in their own appeal papers.

The Court of Appeal Registry should also provide a copy of the plea transcript and sentencing remarks.

The Court of Appeal must allow an appeal if the Director of Public Prosecutions satisfies the Court of Appeal that there is an error and a different sentence should be imposed. This is a high threshold test, and the Court will refuse leave to appeal if there is no reasonable prospect that the Court of Appeal would impose a less severe sentence than that initially imposed, or that there is no prospect that the Court of Appeal would reduce the sentence even if there is a demonstrated error in the sentence (although they can then go on to correct the error). If the court considers that this threshold is met and that a different sentence would be imposed, then it will impose a sentence that it considers appropriate, taking into account all plea material.

The Court of Appeal must not consider ‘double jeopardy’ when re-sentencing the respondent under a successful Crown appeal. This was the (seemingly very just) principle that given a person was facing sentence twice for the same matter it should not be increased substantially without taking that into account.

On a Crown Appeal the respondent is entitled to an indemnity certificate which covers the reasonable costs of their lawyers.

Sometimes the Crown will appeal the sentence at the same time as the accused person appealing either conviction or sentence. If this occurs then the appeals will be heard at the same time.