Sentencing & Appeals


When the court is convinced beyond all reasonable doubt that the accused committed the offense, the court will find the accused guilty and convict for the offense charged. The court will then decide what sentence is appropriate for the accused. The prosecution may present aggravating circumstances to the court, if any exist, to assist the court in determining the appropriate sentence. If a finding of guilty is entered in respect of a child offender, a social welfare report will be prepared and presented to the court before sentence. The convict will then be given an opportunity to mitigate before sentence. Following mitigation, the court will either sentence or adjourn the case for sentencing to a later date.


If an accused person or the DPP is dissatisfied with a Court’s decision, a notice of appeal may be filed into court. This means that the accused or the DPP are requesting that a judgment be reversed. Where the appeal is lodged depends on which Court made the decision. If the Subordinate Court makes the decision, the accused will file an appeal with the High Court. If the decision was made by the High Court, the appeal will be lodged in the Court of Appeal, and if the decision was made by the Court of Appeal, the appeal will be lodged in the Supreme Court. Since the Supreme Court is the final and highest court, any decision made by it is binding.

What can the accused appeal against?

An accused person may file an appeal against the court’s conviction if he or she believes they should not have been found guilty. The accused may also file an appeal against the severity of the court’s sentence. This means that the accused is not contesting their guilt, but that they believe the punishment imposed on them is excessive.

When can the DPP appeal against the decision of the court?

When the DPP is dissatisfied with the Court’s decision, a notice of appeal may be filed against a judgment that is erroneous on a point of law or is in excess of jurisdiction. The DPP may file an appeal against the court’s acquittal (either at case to answer or at the conclusion of the trial) or sentence. Before filing a notice of appeal, the DPP must be satisfied that the appeal has a reasonable prospects of success. When an appeal is brought against a sentence, the court must have either exceeded its sentencing powers or imposed a sentence that was not prescribed by law. An appeal is not filed solely because the victim is unhappy with a sentence or acquittal. There will also be no appeal because there is a public interest.

How do appeal court judges review a sentence appealed against?

The court will review the written record of the appeal to determine why the trial court imposed a particular sentence. It will only consider a sentence lenient if they believe the trial judge made a legal error. The sentence may be upheld, reduced, or increased by the court. The court hearing an appeal cannot sentence a convict to a sentence that is higher than what is prescribed by law.