Appeal in criminal law

What is an appeal in criminal law? Everything you need to know

At Law & More, we often get questions about appeals in criminal law. What exactly does it entail? How does it work? In this blog, we explain the process of appeal in criminal law.

What is an appeal?

In the Netherlands, we have courts, courts of appeal, and the Supreme Court. The public prosecutor first submits a criminal case to the courts. Appeal in a criminal case is the right of both a convicted person and the public prosecutor to appeal a verdict in a criminal case. The trial court then re-judges the case, which consists of judges different from those who heard the original case. This process allows the parties involved to have the lower court’s ruling reviewed, where they can present arguments about why the ruling was incorrect or unjust.

During the appeal, the focus may shift to various aspects of the case, such as evidentiary problems, the level of punishment, legal errors, or violations of the accused’s rights. The court meticulously reviews the case and may decide to uphold, set aside, or modify the original verdict.

Duration of appeal hearing

After filing an appeal, either by yourself or the public prosecutor, the first-instance judge will record the judgment in writing. After that, all relevant documents will be forwarded to the court to hear your appeal case.

Pre-trial detention: if you are in pre-trial detention, your case will usually be heard within six months of the verdict.

At large: if you are not in pre-trial detention and are therefore at large, the time limit for an appeal hearing may vary between 6 and 24 months.

If much time elapses between the filing of the appeal and the hearing date, your lawyer can raise what is known as a “reasonable time defense.”

How does appeal work?

  1. Filing an appeal: An appeal must be filed within two weeks of the criminal court’s final verdict.
  2. Case preparation: your lawyer will prepare the case again. This may include gathering additional evidence, drafting legal arguments, and assembling witnesses.
  3. Appeal hearing: At the court hearing, both parties present their arguments again, and the appeal judges reassess the case.
  4. Verdict: after the assessment, the court gives its verdict. This ruling can confirm, modify, or set aside the original judgment.

Risks on appeal

“To appeal is to risk” is a legal term indicating that filing an appeal against a court ruling carries certain risks. This means there is no guarantee that the appeal outcome will be more favorable than the original ruling. The trial court may impose a harsher sentence than the court previously did. Appealing may also result in new investigations and proceedings, which may have adverse consequences, such as the discovery of new evidence or witness statements.

While keeping “to appeal is to risk” in mind is essential, this does not mean that appeal is always a bad choice. It is crucial to seek sound legal advice and carefully weigh the potential risks and benefits before deciding to appeal. Law & More can advise you on this.

Why choose Law & More?

If you or someone you know is involved in a criminal case and is considering an appeal, we are ready to assist you with expert legal advice and vigorous representation. Our expert lawyers will ensure that your case is thoroughly prepared and effectively presented so that you have the best possible chance of a favorable outcome. Do you have questions, or are you involved in a criminal case? If so, please get in touch with us.

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