While the Canadian justice system strives to carry fair and just rulings, there are situations where that is not the case. While it may seem like there is no hope for the accused, some still wonder, “Can My Case Be Overruled in Court?” Fortunately, an appeals process is available that allows convicted criminals to challenge an original decision if there is reason to believe the ruling was unjust.
Conducting the process of an appeal is not for those who disagree with their court ruling. Instead, this process identifies trial errors or misjudgments. After a trial, there is an allotted period in which the convicted can request an appeal and challenge the decision.
Different Court Systems
Before engaging with the appeals process, it’s essential to understand the organization of the Canadian courts.
Provincial and Territorial Courts
Considered the lower courts in Canada, provincial and territorial courts deal with everyday, low-level criminal offences. These might include traffic violations, small claims, family disputes, bylaw offences, and provincial law violations. When convicted parties appeal cases at this level, it either escalates to the province’s superior court or transitions to another court of appeal.
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice deals with more significant criminal matters—issues like divorce, serious criminal charges, and cases dealing with large sums of money.
The Appeal Process
With a basic understanding of the Canadian courts, the question remains, “Can My Case Be Overruled in Court?” To understand this, it’s necessary to examine the appeal process.
Appealing a verdict is not as simple as it seems. First, it’s important to note that appealing is not a re-trial. Judges will not rehear evidence and instead refer to the previous trial and ruling for information.
Lawyers arguing for appeals focus on how a senior judge should interpret laws differently for a specific case. Because appeals suggest that circumstances might alter a law’s interpretation, these rulings can have a significant societal impact. Thus, most judges won’t consider appeals unless there is reason to believe the verdict could be revolutionary.
The Three Levels of Appeal Courts in Canada
There are three levels of appeal courts in Canada.
Summary Conviction Appeal
Summary conviction appeals require the case to escalate to another court within your province.
The Provincial Court of Appeal
Most appeal cases will resolve in the provincial court of appeal. Three judges who make court decisions throughout the province will determine the appeal’s status and whether it should move to the Supreme Court of Canada.
The Supreme Court of Canada
Nine judges from across Canada sit on the Supreme Court as the highest court in the land. Appeals only reach this level if their potential verdict could have revolutionary societal impacts and alter the future interpretation of the law. Decisions at this level are final.