The Complete Guide To Filing A Criminal Appeal In Singapore

Suppose you find yourself in a situation where the court has either found you guilty of a crime you did not commit, or you have been handed a sentence that you feel is harsher than what your crime warranted. In any case, you can take action by appealing the possible injustice being done to you.

In this article, we will look at some of the most common questions that are asked when people contact a law firm Singapore regarding filing a criminal appeal.

What Can You File a Criminal Appeal Against?

There are three different situations where you can appeal the court’s decision. 

Remember that if you have pled guilty to a crime, you cannot appeal against your conviction but only against your sentence. 

The three situations you can appeal against are the judgment, the sentence, or the court order.

Judgment 

This is a conviction. It means that you have been found guilty of an offense and want to have the case reviewed again.

Sentence

This is the punishment that you have been served.

Court Order 

This is a direction from the Judge that directs a person to either have to do something or not be allowed to do something.

When is Filing an Appeal Not the Right Option?

One situation where an appeal is not the right route to take is if you question the law of public interest.

If the situation you are in concerns a controversial point of law that affects the involved parties’ rights, you should file a criminal reference instead.

Keep in mind that the law points need to be of personal interest to more than just the convicted person.

Can My Sentence be Increased on Appeal?

It is possible for your sentence to be increased should you choose to appeal your case.

Hence, when you consider the pros and cons of filing an appeal, you must consider the fact that your situation could worsen.

On What Basis Can I Appeal?

If you choose to appeal against your conviction, there are two different bases you can appeal on. 

The first is the basis of an error in law, and the second is the basis of an error in fact.

Error in Law

To appeal based on the error in law, you are stating an error in the identification, interpretation, or application of a legal principle occurred.

Error in Fact 

Appealing based on an error in fact means that you feel that it was incorrectly determined whether something had happened or was going to happen.

How Many Times Can I Appeal?

Generally speaking, you are only allowed to file an appeal once. However, there are exceptions to this rule. 

The Court of Appeal has the power to reopen a case to ensure that justice is being served fairly and accurately. 

To have the Court of Appeal reopen a case, two requirements must be met – the first is that there is new and compelling material, and second is the proof that a “miscarriage of justice” will exist if the appeal is not reopened.

New and Compelling: This means that the material was not available before the application was filed, and it can show almost conclusively that a miscarriage of justice has occurred.

Miscarriage of Justice: This means that there is evidence that the court was almost definitely wrong, or something compromised the integrity of the proceedings in the court case.

Which Court Will My Appeal be Heard in?

Where your appeal will be heard is dependent on the maximum imprisonment term of your offense, and whether it is below or above ten years.

Below Ten Years

If your offense is punishable by imprisonment of fewer than ten years, or by a fine, your appeal will be heard in the High Court.

Above Ten Years

If your offense is punishable by imprisonment of more than ten years, or by death, you will be heard by the Court of Appeal since the High Courts would have heard your original trial.

If I Intend to Appeal, Do I Still Need to Serve My Sentence?

Three different situations can occur when you file your appeal. 

The first is that you continue serving your sentence since there is no automatic stay of execution when an appeal is filed. 

The second is that your sentence is placed on hold while your appeal concludes. 

Finally, the third is that you are released on bail while you are awaiting your trial. 

Which of the three applies to you will depend on the nature of your offense and the court’s decision.

How Do I File a Criminal Appeal?

Three necessary steps must be followed to file your criminal appeal effectively. The procedure listed below only applies to those charged with a crime on or after January 2nd, 2011.

Step One: File a Notice of Appeal

Within fourteen days of your sentence of order, fill out the Notice of Appeal form, which states that you intend to appeal the decision that has been made. 

In addition to this form, you will be required to pay a security fund to cover the opposing sides’ costs if your appeal fails. 

This amount varies based on where your case was first heard.

Step Two: Service of Grounds of Decision and Notes of Evidence

After your appeal is filed, you or your lawyer will be given the Grounds of Decision and Notes of Evidence. 

The Grounds of Decision will contain the reasons for the court’s decision while the Notes of Evidence will include the Judge’s hearing notes.

Step Three: File the Petition of Appeal

Within fourteen days of receiving the Grounds of Decision and Notes of Evidence, you must file the Petition of Appeal in order to move forward with your appeal.

What Happens After I File My Appeal?

Once your appeal has been filed, one of the following two things will happen – it will either be rejected or it will be approved.

If the appeal is approved, the court will tell you when your hearing date will be. You must show up to your court hearing unless you are in custody. If you do not show up, the court can dismiss your appeal, unless you can show that your absence was not your fault.

Can the Prosecution File an Appeal Against Me?

The public prosecutor can appeal against the acquittal of an accused, the sentence given, or the order of the trial court. 

In rare cases, the prosecution can also appeal to have your sentence reduced.

Can the Victim Appeal Against Me?

Neither the victim of a crime nor the victim’s family is allowed to appeal the decision made by the court. 

Only the offender or the Public Prosecutor can file an appeal in a criminal case.

Engaging a Lawyer for Your Criminal Appeal in Singapore

While it is not necessary to engage a lawyer to appeal your criminal case, it is highly recommended that you consult with a lawyer before you file your appeal. 

The reason for this is that there are high penalties associated with criminal charges. Hence, you would want to ensure that you have the best chance of being successful with your appeal.

If you are looking for more information about your specific situation on whether you should file a criminal appeal, you are encouraged to speak with a criminal lawyer.