Criminal Appeals


If an accused person is found guilty of a crime, they can seek permission from the court to appeal against: 

  • the conviction
  • the sentence
  • both.

Sift Process

A senior judge or appeal sheriff decides whether or not to grant permission for an appeal to proceed. This is called the sift process. There can be two parts to this.

A single judge or appeal sheriff will consider whether there are ‘arguable grounds’ for an appeal to proceed based on legal matters and evidence.  

Where permission to appeal is refused at the first sift, an appeal can be made against that refusal to a second sift. This will be considered by two or three judges/sheriffs, depending on the type of appeal. 

 If permission is granted, a hearing is fixed to determine the points of law to be considered in the appeal.  


If an appeal is allowed against conviction, the appeal judges can confirm or quash (reject) the verdict. In certain cases, they can order the trial to be heard again.

If an appeal is allowed against a sentence, the appeal judges can confirm or change the sentence.

If an accused loses an appeal and believes there has been a 'miscarriage of justice', they can apply for a reference from the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission.

Legal advice is recommended for an accused wishing to appeal.

The Law Society of Scotland can provide contact details for local solicitors.


The prosecutor - who pursues the case against the accused at trial - can appeal against a sentence if they think it is too low. They can also appeal against points of law in relation to the trial.

How to appeal

See information on making an appeal

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