Understanding the Appeals Process for Criminal Convictions in Victoria

Navigating the legal landscape can be daunting, especially when dealing with criminal convictions. The appeals process serves as a pivotal avenue for those seeking to challenge or rectify decisions made in the lower courts. In Victoria, the process is notably complex, requiring a nuanced understanding of the law.

Firstly – there are strict time limits! Notice of Appeal should be lodged within 28 days of date of the judicial officers’ decision!

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The primary aim of an appeal is to correct errors, eliminate unfairness, and ensure that justice is upheld. The Court of Appeal, a division of the Supreme Court of Victoria, is the central venue for most criminal appeals. This article will guide you through the key aspects of appealing a criminal conviction in Victoria.

Grounds for Appeal

Before diving into the procedural aspects, it’s important to know on what basis one can appeal a conviction or sentence. The following are common grounds for appeal:

Unreasonable Verdict

An appeal can be lodged if the verdict is deemed unreasonable, or not supported by evidence. This is often a matter of contesting the weight given to particular evidence in the initial trial.

Error of Law

If it is believed that the trial judge made a mistake in interpreting or applying the law, this provides a valid ground for appeal.

Miscarriage of Justice

This is a broad category and can include circumstances like juror misconduct, suppression of evidence, or improper conduct by the Crown Prosecution.

Lodging an Appeal

The process starts with filing a “Notice of Appeal.” This must usually be done within 28 days from the date of the conviction or sentence you’re appealing against.


Although 28 days is the standard timeframe, extensions can be sought. However, the court has discretion in granting these, and they are by no means guaranteed.

The Notice of Appeal is just the beginning. Other documents, like the transcript of the trial and written submissions, must also be submitted.

The Appeals Process

Once the appeal is lodged, both parties prepare for the hearing. This involves compiling written submissions and evidence, which are then reviewed by the judges.

Preparing Submissions

Both the appellant and the Crown are allowed to submit written arguments to outline their cases. These documents should be thorough, logical, and based on legal precedents.

Oral Arguments

The Court of Appeal will schedule a hearing where both parties can present oral arguments. This is an opportunity to persuade the judges and clarify any ambiguities.

The Decision

After evaluating the appeal, the Court of Appeal will arrive at a decision. The following are potential outcomes:


If the appeal is unsuccessful, the original verdict and sentence stand.

Quashing Conviction

The court may quash the original conviction, which can result in an acquittal or an order for a new trial.

Sentence Modification

The Court of Appeal has the power to alter the original sentence. This could mean either an increase or a reduction in the term.

Given the complexity and high stakes involved in the appeals process, it is strongly advised to seek qualified legal representation. Lawyers who specialise in criminal law can provide invaluable expertise.

Special Leave to the High Court

In rare instances, one may seek to appeal to the High Court of Australia. However, this usually requires “special leave” and is reserved for cases involving significant legal principles.


Understanding the appeals process for criminal convictions in Victoria is crucial for both legal professionals and those directly affected by such verdicts. While this article provides an overview, expert legal advice is essential for navigating this complicated terrain.

Further Reading

Sentencing Advisory Council

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