An appeal is an application made by an offender asking a higher court to review a decision of the lower court. The appeal stage of the criminal process occurs after the trial occurs, or where the accused pleads guilty, after the plea. Both the Crown and the offender may appeal in certain situations; however, it is important to remember that a decision cannot be appealed just because the Crown or offender does not agree with it. A notice of appeal must be filed within 30 days of the conviction or sentence that is being appealed.
In a criminal context, the offender may appeal their conviction or their sentence. When convicted at trial, the offender can appeal both their conviction and sentence or only the sentence. When the offender pleads guilty, they can only appeal their sentence.
Once an appeal is filed, an appeal hearing will be scheduled and conducted. At the hearing, the presiding justice(s) will hear arguments from both the Crown and the offender or their counsel. Each side will make arguments for or against the appeal and will request that the court do something specific, like strike the conviction or change the sentence. Prior to the hearing, the court must be provided with all documents relevant to the case. This information is gathered into one package of material called an Appeal Book. Both parties must also provide the court with a factum outlining their arguments in writing prior to the hearing. At the hearing, both parties will make oral submissions on their arguments and answer any questions the court may have.