Sentencing appeal process

In certain circumstances, an offender may appeal against their sentence to a higher court.

The Attorney-General may also appeal a sentence on behalf of the state.

Sentences in the Magistrates Court

Sentences imposed in the Magistrates Court may be appealed to the District Court, normally within one month of the original sentence.

A judge will rehear the case, based on the law at the time of the appeal and the evidence provided to the Magistrates Court, unless the District Court allows further evidence on special grounds.

On hearing the appeal, the judge may:

  • confirm, set aside or vary the original sentence
  • refer the matter back to the Magistrates Court with directions
  • seek the opinion of the Court of Appeal on a point of law
  • make an order for costs to be paid by either party.

Sentences in the District or Supreme Courts

If the sentence was imposed by the District or Supreme Court, the appeal must be taken to the Court of Appeal. The Court of Appeal is part of the Supreme Court which is Queensland’s highest court.

The Court of Appeal comprises 3 or 5 Supreme Court judges. This court does not have a jury and does not rehear the matter being appealed.

The court focuses on whether the District or Supreme Court made any legal error in its sentencing.

An offender’s right of appeal to the Court of Appeal is not automatic—they have to apply to the Court of Appeal.

The Attorney-General may appeal sentences to the Court of Appeal. In this instance, a representative of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions appears on behalf of the state.

The Court of Appeal may decide an alternative sentence is more appropriate.

Appeals to the High Court of Australia

A decision of the Court of Appeal may be appealed to the High Court of Australia. No right exists to automatically be heard by the High Court. Instead, the High Court must be satisfied that special reasons warrant it hearing the appeal.

View more on appealing a court decision

This information is not intended to provide legal advice and has been prepared for the purposes of providing information only. While all reasonable care has been taken in the preparation of this information, no liability is assumed for any errors or omissions.