An appeal is an application to a higher court to reconsider the decision of a lower court. In all appeals (except appeals from the Local Court to the District Court) you will normally need to show that there has been an error of law.

Criminal appeals are generally governed by the Crimes (Appeal and Review) Act 2001 (NSW). Under section 11(1) of the Act, any person who has been sentenced by a Local Court may appeal to the District Court against the severity of the sentence.

Severity Appeal

A severity appeal to the District Court is one option that may be taken when the Local Court hands down a sentence. Some other options are:

  • Annulment of conviction or sentence;
  • Appeal against conviction; and
  • Appeal to the Supreme Court (Court of Criminal Appeal).

Whether any of these options are available and/or suitable will depend on the circumstances of each particular case. Please call us for more information and advice on (02) 9290 1177.


It is possible to have a conviction/penalty order that was made in your absence reversed or cancelled (annulled) in the Local Court. For certain offences, a Local Court is able to finalise your matter, record a conviction and impose a penalty if you do not attend court. There are many reasons why a person may not attend court. These include sickness, a mistake as to the date you had to attend court; or your solicitor forgot the date. If this has happened to you it may be possible to reverse the court’s decision and have your say in court. The process is called annulment.

Court of Criminal Appeal

In New South Wales the Court of Criminal Appeal (CCA) deals with appeals from the District Court and Supreme Court. For criminal matters the CCA is the highest court in New South Wales. The CCA only deals with cases where it is said to be an error of law by rights.

If you, a family member or a loved one has been convicted of an offence following either a trial before a jury or a judge sitting without a jury (District Court of NSW or Supreme Court of NSW) and you believe that there has been an injustice and the verdict is wrong, an appeal may be brought to the NSW CCA under the Criminal Appeal Act 1912 (NSW).

An appeal against Conviction

An appeal against a decision by a Local Court Magistrate that you are guilty of an offence is known as a conviction appeal or all grounds appeal. Provided the appeal is lodged within 28 days of the finalisation of the matter in the Local Court you have a right to appeal.

If an appeal is filed after 28 days but within 3 months a person may still appeal but needs to get the leave (permission) of the District Court to do so.