Only the convicted person or the prosecution can make an appeal. Victims of crime who are unhappy with the verdict or sentence can talk to VIA about how they feel and ask for a meeting with the fiscal or trial prosecutor to find out more about what happened and, if possible, the reasons for it.

Following a criminal case, a convicted person may appeal against their conviction or sentence. The court may refuse the appeal or may allow the appeal in full or part. If the appeal is allowed in full, the court may order a retrial or may acquit the accused. If the accused pleaded guilty they would normally only be able to appeal against the sentence.

If offenders appeal they can also apply for bail and may be released while waiting for the appeal to be heard (this is called ‘interim liberation’). Almost all appeals in Scotland are heard by Judges in the Appeal Court, which is based in Edinburgh. The court is able to impose a higher or lower sentence, or may confirm the original sentence.

The prosecution has more limited right of appeal. The prosecution can:-

  • appeal against an acquittal (“not guilty” or “not proven” verdict), but only in summary cases (where there has been no jury). And this can only be on a point of law.
  • appeal against sentence, but only where a sentence is regarded as ‘unduly lenient’ (if it falls outside the normal range of sentences the judge could have considered appropriate, taking account of all the relevant factors).