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The Process of Criminal Appeals in Canada

In Canada, the criminal justice system is designed to ensure fair trials and uphold the rights of individuals accused of crimes. However, even with all the safeguards in place, there are instances where errors in judgment or legal procedures can lead to unjust convictions or harsh sentences. To address these concerns, the process of criminal appeals exists, providing an avenue for individuals to challenge their convictions or sentences. 

In this article, we will delve into the process of criminal appeals in Canada, exploring the steps involved and the significance of seeking assistance from a criminal law expert in Mississauga.

Criminal Appeals

Exploring the Criminal Appeals Process

1. Grounds for Appeal

The first step in the criminal appeals process is determining whether there are valid grounds for an appeal. Criminal appeals are not a second trial; they are a review of the trial process to identify potential errors that could have impacted the verdict or sentencing. 

Some common grounds for appeal include:

  • Misapplication of the law
  • New evidence that was not available during the trial
  • Inadequate legal representation
  • Mistakes in the judge’s instructions to the jury
  • Violation of the accused’s Charter rights

2. Filing the Notice of Appeal

Once the accused, or their legal representative, identifies valid grounds for appeal, they must file a Notice of Appeal with the appropriate court. The Notice of Appeal outlines the specific issues being challenged and serves as a formal request for a review of the case.

3. Review by the Appellate Court

The appellate court, which is a higher court than the trial court, reviews the case to determine whether errors occurred during the trial that warrants a new trial or a variation in the sentence. The court will consider the arguments presented in the Notice of Appeal and examine the trial records and evidence.

4. The Appeal Hearing

During the appeal hearing, both the appellant’s lawyer and the Crown prosecutor present their arguments to the appellate court. The appellant’s lawyer will explain why the lower court’s decision was incorrect based on the identified grounds for appeal, while the Crown prosecutor will defend the original verdict or sentence.

5. The Decision

After considering all the evidence and arguments, the appellate court will make a decision. The court may:

  • Dismiss the appeal: If the court believes that no errors warrant a new trial or different sentence, the original conviction and sentence stand.

  • Allow the appeal and order a new trial: If the court finds significant errors that impacted the fairness of the trial, a new trial may be ordered to rectify these issues.

  • Allow the appeal and vary the sentence: In some cases, the court may agree with the appeal on sentencing grounds and modify the original sentence.

6. Post-Appeal Options

If the appeal is unsuccessful, the appellant may have limited options to pursue further appeals. However, if the appeal is successful, the Crown may have the right to appeal the decision to a higher court.


The process of criminal appeals in Canada is a complex and intricate legal journey, requiring an in-depth understanding of criminal law and court procedures. 

If you or someone you know is considering a criminal appeal in Canada, don’t hesitate to consult with a qualified criminal law expert. They can help navigate the complexities of the legal system and work tirelessly to secure justice and fairness in the face of unjust convictions or harsh sentences. 

Remember, seeking legal assistance is a fundamental right that can make a world of difference in upholding justice for all.