How to Process an Inmate Appeal
This guide is intended to help you prepare your criminal inmate appeal. Office staff cannot provide legal advice or complete your appeal on your behalf. For more information about appeals and procedures, please refer to the Criminal Appeal Rules.
What is an inmate appeal?
An inmate appeal is an appeal by a person in a provincial or federal custodial institution, involving a conviction, sentence, or other order pronounced in a criminal proceeding. At the time the notice of appeal is given, the appellant is in custody and is not represented by counsel.
Do I require a lawyer?
No. You may represent yourself at the Court of Appeal, but it is recommended that you seek legal advice where possible. You may wish to complete an application for legal aid.
What happens if my application for legal aid is refused and I want my appeal to proceed as an in-writing appeal?
If you do not want to appear in court and you choose to proceed with your appeal in-writing, you will be required to provide the Court with your written argument. The Registrar of the Court of Appeal will send you the report of the trial judge and a letter notifying you that you must file written submissions within 14 days.
What happens if my application for legal aid is granted?
Once a legal aid certificate is granted the solicitor is directed to file a notice of appeal (Form A) within 15 days of receiving the legal aid certificate.
Can I appeal any criminal case to the Court of Appeal?
An appeal is brought to the Court of Appeal if the offence involved is an indictable offence. If the offence involved is a summary conviction offence, the appeal from conviction and/or sentence must be made to the Superior Court of Justice.
How do I know if the offence is an indictable offence or a summary conviction offence?
The Records Department of the institution in which you are confined may be able to assist you in this regard. Duty counsel may also assist you.
How do I begin an appeal?
An appeal is initiated by filing the following forms:
a) Form A - notice of appeal
You may ask the Records Department or Classification Office of the institution where you are detained for the above forms.
What is the deadline to file the notice of appeal?
The notice of appeal must be served upon (delivered to) to the person in charge of the institution no later than 30 days from the sentence date.
What if the time to file an appeal has expired?
If a notice of appeal has not been served within the required time, you must complete the portion of Form A referring to an application for an extension of time.
What will happen if I do not complete the notice of appeal properly?
The Registrar of the Court of Appeal may return the notice of appeal to the institution if it has not been completely and properly prepared. Keep in mind that this will delay the processing of your appeal.
What will happen once the notice of appeal has been filed?
The Registrar of the Court of Appeal will send a copy of the notice of appeal to the:
a) trial court office requesting the original papers and exhibits;
Am I required to file any documents?
No. The above mentioned offices will prepare the documents required and direct them to the Court of Appeal office. Where legal aid has been refused, the Ministry of the Attorney General (Crown Law-Criminal Division) or the Federal Department of Justice will prepare the appeal book, provide you with a copy, and file 3 copies with the Court of Appeal.
If your appeal is proceeding as an in-writing appeal, you will be asked to file written submissions.
When will the appeal be heard?
The Ministry of the Attorney General (Crown Law-Criminal Division) or the Federal Department of Justice will notify you in writing of the hearing date.
Who will make the arrangement for me to appear in court?
The Ministry of the Attorney General (Crown Law-Criminal Division) or the Federal Department of Justice will arrange for your transportation to the Court of Appeal so that you can argue your appeal.
What if I decide not to continue the appeal?
When the appellant chooses to discontinue (abandon) the appeal, a notice of abandonment must be filed in the Court of Appeal office. The notice of abandonment must be signed by the appellant and witnessed by an officer of the institution or by a lawyer.
Glossary of Terms
Appeal book contains copies of all pertinent documents that were before the court from which the appeal has been taken.
Appellant is the party who appeals a judgment or order to the Court of Appeal.
Charge to the jury is an address delivered by the court to the jury at the close of the case, instructing the jury as to the principles of the law they are required to apply in reaching the decision.
Indictable offence is a more serious criminal charge as distinguished from a summary offence. In some instances, the Crown may determine whether an offence will be tried "summarily" or by "indictment".
Indictment is a document that describes the charge against the accused and is the official record in the Superior Court of Justice.
Information is a document that describes the charge against the accused and is the official record in the Ontario Court of Justice.
Original papers/exhibits are documents filed at the trial or hearing of the proceeding under appeal.
Transcript is the written record of proceedings of the trial including the evidence of the witnesses, oral submissions, and rulings made in open court.
Trial Court is the court where an accused was tried.