Can you appeal against conviction after entering a guilty plea?
This question was considered in the recent decision of T v Regina (08/02/22) when the Court of Appeal identified categories of case in which it had jurisdiction to entertain appeals against convictions despite pleas of guilty.
The courts have identified several circumstances when, notwithstanding an admission of guilt, an appellant is entitled to submit that their conviction is unsafe. Most fell into three broad categories, although those categories were not closed.
Firstly, cases where the guilty plea was vitiated. For example, where an equivocal or an unintended plea was entered. Another might be where a guilty plea was compelled as a matter of law by an adverse and wrong ruling by the trial judge which left no arguable defence to be put before the jury.
Similarly, a guilty plea might be vitiated by improper pressure. Incorrect legal advice could also result in the conviction being quashed or treated as a nullity, where the advice went to the heart of the plea. An appeal could also succeed if vitiated by erroneous legal advice or a failure to advise as to a possible defence.
Secondly, "abuse of process" cases, which arose when there was a legal obstacle to the accused being tried for the offence. For example, entrapment or other fundamental breaches of an accused's right to a fair and public hearing under ECHR art.6.
Thirdly, where it was established that the defendant had not committed the offence and the admission made by the plea was therefore false.
If you require advice in relation to potential appeals against criminal convictions or sentence, please contact us.