welcome criminal lawyers

21. I HAVE BEEN CONVICTED OF A CRIME. CAN I APPEAL AGAINST MY CONVICTION? In criminal cases one can appeal against either the conviction or the sentence or both. In most cases, a convicted person must first apply, to the same court that convicted him, for leave to appeal.1 A judge or magistrate must grant leave to appeal if there is a possibility that another court may reach a different conclusion.2

The Criminal Procedure Act prescribes that this application must be brought within 14 days of the finalisation of the case. If such leave is denied, one can apply for leave to appeal by addressing a letter called a “petition”3 to the Judge President of the court to which one wishes to appeal. The petition must be filed within 21 days of the date in which leave to appeal was denied. A court hearing either the leave to appeal application or the petition can do so even if the prescribed time periods were not adhered to if good reasons for the late filing can be given.

A convicted person has an automatic right to appeal only in the following circumstances4:

1. If that person was sentenced to imprisonment which was not suspended, and at the time of the commission of the offence was:

a) below the age of 16 years;

b) or between 16 and 18 years of age and was not assisted by a legal representative at the time of conviction in a regional court.

2. If a person was sentenced to life imprisonment by a regional court.

1Sec 209B of CPA

2Shinga v The State & another (Society of Advocates (Pietermaritzburg Bar) intervening as Amicus Curiae ); S v O'Connell & others 2007 (2) SACR 28 (CC)

3Sec 309C of CPA

4Sec 309(1)(a) of CPA

Back to Questions