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Criminal Matters

Criminal Guidebooks

Representing yourself in the BC Court of Appeal.

Both the BC Provincial Court and the BC Supreme Court hear criminal cases.  The Supreme Court hears cases involving more serious crimes, like murder, bank robbery, and drug cases. Either the accused or the Crown may decide to appeal the decision of the previous court. The Court of Appeal hears appeals from criminal cases in the Supreme Court, and some from the Provincial Court.

The appellant may appeal the court’s verdict (guilty or not guilty) or the decision on sentencing. Appeals are often misunderstood. An appeal is not a new trial. There are no witnesses or juries. You cannot present new evidence to the judges hearing the appeal (except in special circumstances). The order that you are appealing is not stayed (stopped) just because an appeal is underway.

The Court of Appeal justices will not change the decision under appeal just because it seems unfair or they disagree with it. You must prove that the decision is incorrect because the judge made a mistake in understanding the facts of your case or in applying the law that applies to your case. Even if a mistake was made, you must also prove that the mistake significantly affected the outcome of your case.

Your appeal will usually be heard by a division (panel) of three judges. Both parties will have an opportunity to present their case with a view to convincing the justices that the decision under appeal is not correct.

You do not have to be represented by a lawyer to appear in the Court of Appeal. But, if you represent yourself in court, especially on a serious criminal matter, it is wise to first meet with a lawyer and have him or her explain the law to you, and learn the best way to present your appeal. He or she can also explain your chances of winning or losing the appeal.

The guidebooks in this section will help you appeal a conviction or sentence. They have been adapted from How to Appeal Your Conviction and How to Appeal Your Sentence, published by the Legal Services Society.

Legally reviewed: 2020/ Apr