Our courts are human institutions and even careful judges and juries can make mistakes. An appeal is when one side, either the defence or the prosecution, seeks to have the result of a trial overturned by a higher court. The defence may wish to appeal against a conviction and the prosecution may wish to appeal against an acquittal. Either way, the appeal process prolongs an accused person’s journey through the criminal justice system.
The appeal courts are mostly concerned with errors of law – when a trial judge applies the wrong legal test or standard. However, appeal courts are sometimes concerned with errors of fact – when a trial judge makes a serious and unreasonable finding of fact. Commonly-appealed errors include: when a judge misapprehends the evidence, when a judge fails to properly instruct the jury on the law, when a judge erroneously allows tainted evidence into the trial, or when a judge or jury renders an unreasonable verdict.
At Protomanni & Associates, senior counsel Michael Peterson has dedicated years to appealing criminal convictions at the Court of Appeal of Ontario. Our lawyers are experienced appeal lawyers. We work to ensure that reasonable and hard-won acquittals are upheld and that unreasonable or wrongful convictions are overturned.