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The appeals process

If a convicted person was found guilty after their trial, they can appeal against:

  • their conviction
  • their sentence
  • their conviction and sentence

If the convicted person pled guilty, they can only appeal against their sentence.

The court may decide to:

  • refuse the appeal
  • allow the appeal in full
  • allow the appeal in part

If the appeal is allowed in full, the court may order a retrial or may acquit the convicted person. If a convicted person appeals, they can also apply for bail and may be released while waiting for the appeal to be heard (this is called 'interim liberation').

Almost all appeals in Scotland are heard by judges in the Appeal Court, which is based in Edinburgh. The court can impose a higher or lower sentence, or may confirm the original sentence.

If you're not happy with the verdict

Only the convicted person or the prosecution can appeal a verdict.

Prosecution appeals can only be made in a few circumstances, so they do not happen often.

The prosecution can:

  • appeal against an acquittal – a verdict of 'not guilty' or 'not proven' – but only in summary cases (trials without a jury) and only on a point of law
  • appeal against the sentence – but only where a sentence is regarded as 'unduly lenient'

A sentence is regarded as 'unduly lenient' if it falls outside the normal range of sentences the judge could have considered. The prosecution cannot challenge a sentence just because they think it's not severe enough.

If you're unhappy about the verdict, you can talk to the Victim Information and Advice service (VIA). You can also ask for a meeting with the trial prosecutor to find out more about what happened and, if possible, the reasons for it.

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