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Toronto Criminal Appeal Lawyer

Certified Specialist

Certified Specialist

The Law Society of Upper Canada deemed Adam Weisberg to be a certified specialist in criminal law.

High Profile Cases

High-Profile Cases

High-profile cases featured in over 8 Canadian media publications.

12 Practice Areas

12 Practice Areas

Specialized in defending 12 different practice areas in criminal defense.

Toronto Area

Toronto Area

Services Toronto, Brampton, and Newmarket locations.

Proven Track Record

Proven Track Record

Successfully defended repeated criminal offenders with each accused offense.

What is a Criminal Appeal? 

A criminal conviction is a life-changing event with wide-ranging negative consequences. The fight does not have to end with a conviction. If you have been convicted of a criminal offence, you can appeal the decision to a higher court.

Judges sometimes make mistakes. A criminal defendant has the right to ask a higher court to review what happened at a lower court and to determine if mistakes were made. If a significant legal mistake was made, the higher court can overturn or change the outcome.

Appeals are challenging and complex. It is important to have an experienced criminal lawyer to identify the relevant grounds of appeal, craft strong arguments, and help you navigate the rules and processes of the higher court.

Grounds for Appeal 

Appeals are usually brought on the grounds that the lower court judge misapplied the law and/or significantly misunderstood the evidence. An appeal can also be based on being represented by an incompetent lawyer at the lower court, which caused a miscarriage of justice. Grounds of appeal may include:

  • Relying on evidence that should have been excluded;
  • Arriving at an unreasonable verdict;
  • Failing to apply the presumption of innocence;
  • Failing to provide appropriate instructions to the jury;
  • Providing insufficient reasons for judgment;
  • Applying different levels of scrutiny to defence evidence versus crown evidence;
  • Imposing a sentence that is demonstrably unfit.

Types of Appeals

An appeal can be made against conviction, sentence, a verdict of unfit to stand trial, or a finding of not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder. In Ontario, appeals are heard by the Superior Court of Justice (summary conviction appeals), the Ontario Court of Appeal (indictable appeals) and the Supreme Court of Canada (appeals with issues of national importance or divided legal opinions at the lower courts). 

The type of offence will determine the route of the appeal process.  There are summary offences and indictable offences. 

Summary offences are the lesser offences in the Criminal Code.  They generally have a maximum penalty of 6 months in jail, a $5,000 fine, or both. Summary conviction appeals are heard in the geographical area where the offence occurred. For instance, if you were charged in Brampton with a summary conviction offence, the appeal would be to the Brampton Superior Court. Summary conviction appeals are heard by a superior court judge. 

Indictable offences are more serious and carry greater penalties, such as life in prison.  Indictable offences include murder, kidnapping, serious sexual assaults, and robbery.  There are also hybrid offences, which make up the majority criminal offenses.  For hybrid offences, the Crown can elect to proceed summarily or by indictment.  This choice will indicate the appeal route. Appeals for all indictable offences go to the Ontario Court of Appeal, and are heard before a panel of three judges.

A sentence appeal challenges the type or length of punishment imposed by a lower court after a criminal defendant was found guilty. 

The Appellate Process 

Appeals must generally be filed within 30 days of the date of sentencing.  If you are convicted and want to appeal your conviction, it is recommended that you file a notice of appeal even if you do not yet have a lawyer for your appeal.  If you are in custody, jail staff should be able to help you with this. This is called an inmate notice of appeal. 

A record will need to be filed with the appeal court, that includes materials such as transcripts and written arguments. Appeals also generally require parties to present oral submissions to the court.

An experienced appellate lawyer can ensure that all requirements are met.

Bail Pending Appeal

When your appeal is before the court, you may ask the court to stop the sentence from being enforced until your appeal is dealt with. This is called bail pending appeal. To get bail pending appeal, you need to satisfy the court that your appeal has some merit; that you will surrender yourself to custody before the date of the appeal hearing; and that granting bail is in the public interest.

You can also ask the court to stop the enforcement of other orders imposed as part of sentencing, such as a driving prohibition, until your appeal is dealt with.

Remedies on Appeal 

There are several possible outcomes of a successful appeal. The appeal judge(s) can order:

  • That a new trial be held before a different judge;
  • That the conviction be set aside and an acquittal entered;
  • That the length of sentence be reduced or that the sentence be served in the community rather than in custody.

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