There are a few different outcomes to an appeal.
Appeal against conviction
If the Court of Appeal allows a defendant’s appeal against conviction there are two possible outcomes.
- The Court of Appeal can “quash” the conviction, which means they have decided the defendant should be found not guilty.
- The Court of Appeal can order a “re-trial”.
If they don’t allow the appeal the conviction will stand.
A re-trial is where the Court of Appeal agrees that something went wrong with the trial but it isn’t clear whether the defendant should still be found guilty.
In these cases, the Court of Appeal thinks the trial should start again.
When this happens, the DPP will consider the Court of Appeal’s judgement, re-consider all of the evidence and speak to any alleged victims before deciding whether to run the trial again.
Appeal against sentence
If the Court of Appeal allows an appeal against the sentence, they will usually resentence the accused.
In some cases they might send the matter back to the original court to resentence.
If they don’t allow the appeal, the original sentence remains in force.
The Court of Appeal is the highest court in South Australia.
In most cases, if a matter has been decided by the Court of Appeal, that is the final result.
However, in very limited cases it is possible to appeal to the High Court of Australia, which is the highest court in the judicial system in Australia.
No-one has an automatic right to appeal to the High Court.
If the defendant or the DPP want to appeal to the High Court they have to convince the Court that there are special reasons to reconsider the matter. This is usually in a preliminary hearing or in written arguments provided to the Court.
The Court will consider whether the matter involves legal questions of public importance or questions that require resolution at the highest level.
They will also consider whether “the administration of justice” requires the matter to be considered by the High Court.
If the High Court agrees to hear the appeal, it will be listed for argument in front of five or seven High Court judges.
Like an appeal in the Court of Appeal, after hearing legal arguments, the High Court will normally take some time to consider them and will give its judgement at a later date.
This can be several months.
In addition to an appeal to the High Court, in some very rare cases it will be possible to appeal to the SA Court of Appeal for a second time.
This is only in cases where important new evidence has come to light after the earlier proceedings have concluded.