Appeals in Queensland Courts
Troubled by a decision in a Queensland court? You might be able to appeal against the decision.
While typically well-considered and astute, not all judgements delivered in criminal or civil cases are accurate. Sometimes the decision reached by a judge, magistrate or jury will be based on a mistake in the original case and so that decision can be appealed against. This article explores when that’s appropriate and how the appeal process works in Queensland courts.
The first critical thing to consider is that you may not appeal because you didn’t like the result or because you felt as though the judge wasn’t on your side – if so, there would be no end to an eternal series of appeals in court cases! An appeal on a decision must be because the judicial officer making the decision in court has made a mistake that resulted in your conviction.
The Queensland court structure is a hierarchy of courts that deal with progressively more serious cases. Any appeal of a decision made goes to the next highest court in the hierarchy, so:
- a decision made in the Magistrates Court may be appealed to the District Court; and,
- a decision made in the District or Supreme Court may be appealed to the Court of Appeal. In these cases, some appeals require the Court of Appeal to give leave to appeal before the court can hear the appeal.
Having your case go to appeal isn’t a guarantee that the decision will be overturned or changed, but simply that a higher level of court will give consideration to the potential for a mistake affecting the outcome of your original case.
Often mistakes are made on points of law in cases and are easily reconsidered so it is ideal to have advice from a lawyer on the appeal process as they are, if they’re worth their salt, well-trained in recognising where an opportunity for an appeal may be.
As anyone who has watched any type of crime or drama show will know, criminal case verdicts are either ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’. In criminal cases, only those directly involved in the case can appeal – namely either the defendant or the Crown. A defendant can appeal against a guilty verdict or they can apply for leave to appeal to have their sentence reduced. In the latter case someone charged with a crime may agree that a guilty verdict is appropriate or unavoidable, but think that the sentence is not proportionate to the nature of the crime (imprisonment for jaywalking, for example, would be a far-fetched example of this). If an appeal against the guilty verdict is successful, the court will either order a new trial with a different judge and jury, or find the appellant not guilty. If an appeal against the sentence is successful, the sentence may be reduced or a different type of sentence may be imposed.
In civil cases, any of the parties involved in the case may appeal, although this may be subject to the agreement of the court to give leave for the appeal to go through. At the end of the day, an entirely new trial may be ordered (especially if important new evidence has been found) or the court may change the original decision.
If you are troubled by a decision in a court case or would like some more information on appealing a decision in a Queensland court, feel free to reach us at www.kahlerlawyers.com.au or 1300 FNQ LAW.
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1300 FNQ LAW (367 529)
Disclaimer: This article contains general information and personal opinions. The information contained in this article is not legal advice and should not be treated as such. You must not rely on the information in this article as an alternative to legal advice from an appropriately qualified professional. If you have any specific questions about any legal matter you should consult an appropriately qualified professional. You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information in this article. We do not represent, warrant, undertake or guarantee that the use of information in this article will lead to any particular outcome or result.