Criminal appeal vs criminal revision: What’s the difference and how do they work?

by 4 August 2021Criminal Defence

Criminal Revision vs Appeal

After you’ve been sentenced in a criminal case, there’s still a brief window of opportunity for you to appeal to change the outcome of your conviction or sentence. Perhaps you felt pressured to plead guilty, you believe your defence was mishandled, or you believe the judge made an error. 

If so, you may choose to file a criminal appeal or revision. But take note: the outcome can sometimes be an increase in your sentence, so be sure to consult an experienced law firm or criminal lawyer in Singapore first to ensure you’re making the right decision. 

What is a criminal appeal?

In accordance with sections 374, 375, and 376 of Singapore’s Criminal Procedure Code (CPC), you are entitled to appeal to the appellate court if you are not satisfied with the conviction, sentence, or court order issued to you by a trial court. 

You may file a criminal appeal against conviction and sentence within 14 calendar days after the date of the sentence or order. If you have missed this deadline, you will need to file a criminal motion to the High Court to apply for an extension of time to appeal.

In general, you may file for an appeal only once, unless there is new evidence that is so compelling the Court of Appeal decides to reopen your case. 

Process of filing a criminal appeal in Singapore

Sections 377 and 378 of the CPC outline the process for filing for an appeal against a decision made by the State Court, namely: 

  1. File a Notice of Appeal: Form 66, found in the Schedule of the Criminal Procedure Rules 2018, is used as the Notice of Appeal, which you will need to file within 14 calendar days of your sentencing. You may file in person at the State Courts or online using the Integrated Case Management System (ICMS). There is a $50 filing fee.
  2. Review the grounds of decision and notes of evidence: After you file a Notice of Appeal, you will receive via courier two documents related to your sentencing – the grounds of decision, which outlines the reasons for the court’s decision, and the notes of evidence, a word-for-word transcript of what was said during your court trial.

  3. Lodge a Petition of Appeal: If you do decide to go ahead with the appeal, you will need to file a Petition of Appeal, either in person at the State Courts or online via ICMS. You have 14 calendar days from the date you receive the grounds of decision and notes of evidence. If you miss this deadline, you need to file a criminal motion to the High Court to apply for an extension. If you decide not to go ahead with the appeal, the court will proceed to enforce its original sentence or order. 

However, there are some situations in which a criminal appeal may not be appropriate for your case. One example is when you wish to overturn your plea of guilt and declare you are not guilty of the crime. In such instances, an application for a criminal revision to the General Division of the High Court may be more appropriate.

What is a criminal revision?

As mentioned above, there are some cases where an appeal is not the appropriate course of action, such as when you’d like to: 

  • Retract your plea of guilt
  • Set aside a sentence that is not within the punishment prescribed by the law
  • Seek amendment of your charges for which plea has been taken and sentence passed

In such cases, you’d want to file for a criminal revision, which allows the High Court to examine the State Courts’ records and re-evaluate the conviction or correct irregularities if found.

Furthermore, criminal revisions are open court hearings that may be attended by the public.

Process of filing a criminal revision in Singapore

If you are keen to file a criminal revision, you may only do so through the eLitigation website. As only law firms can subscribe to the eLitigation website, note that you will be unable to access the platform if you are representing yourself. 

In such cases, you will have to head down to the LawNet & CrimsonLogic Service Bureaus to submit hard copies of your application and any supporting documents.

Be sure to submit:

  • All information on your original case
  • A completed Petition of Revision form (Forms 70 or 71 from the Schedule of the Criminal Procedure Rules 2018)
  • A supporting affidavit which includes a signed statement made under oath that explains the reasons for your application
  • The record of proceedings (transcripts and documents) if your original case involved a State Court hearing

Need help with your appeal? Consult a law firm or criminal lawyer in Singapore for advice

Remember, if you file for an appeal to change your sentence, the judge could either reduce or increase it, so that is a risk you will need to knowingly take. It is also generally harder for revisions to be successful as the High Court will be very selective about accepting applications. 

To make the best possible choice for yourself and your case, it’s important that you have all the facts you need to make a well-informed decision. Our team of expert criminal lawyers at Tembusu Law will give you the legal guidance you need to secure a fair outcome for your case. Contact us today if you have any questions regarding criminal appeal, criminal revision, or anything else related to criminal law in Singapore

About the author

About the author

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan is the Founder and Managing Director of Tembusu Law. He is also the founder of LawGuide Singapore, a prominent legaltech startup which successfully created and launched Singapore’s first legal chatbot in 2017.

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