Edward Prutschi explains the time limits and first steps in proceeding with an appeal.
In your typical appeal, you have 30 days from the time of final judgment, which means when sentencing is handed down, to file your Notice of Appeal. Sometimes that day is not the same day that the guilty verdict is handed down so the actual date is an important one. That doesn’t mean that you have to file all of the documents necessary for the appeal right away. Gathering that data can often take several months before all the material is prepared
In the meantime, what you do need is at least the bare skeleton of your appeal and the Notice of Appeal prepared. Your lawyer will also need to already have some ideas for the basis of the appeal and the correct court to appeal to. Your lawyer also needs to begin gathering other documents and the background information that the court needs in order to file the application. This all needs to be done in that 30-day period and without delay, especially if you are switching from a trial lawyer to a different appellant lawyer. That new lawyer is going to have to get familiar very quickly with at least the rudimentary aspects of your case, and he or she may not have the advantage of reviewing the transcript because generally a transcript won’t be available in that time. He or she will listen to what you are able to tell them, and what your trial lawyer is able to tell them.
When we are asked to act as appellant lawyers, we often call the trial lawyers to get their opinions about what they think the issues are and what the advantages and disadvantages of an appeal might be. Where a judge has rendered a written judgment regarding why he or she came to the decision that they did, we will also read that very closely. A written judgment is very helpful because then we can see right away what the judge was thinking, and see whether there are any obvious errors that we want to highlight to the Court of Appeal.
There are different routes to appeal as well, depending on where your case was situated in the first place. If you are facing a summary conviction offense in the anterior Court of Justice which is the vast majority of trials in this province, your first round of appeal is to a single judge of the Superior Court of Justice, which in the Toronto region is at 361 University Avenue, in Toronto. If, on the other hand, your case was an indictable matter, the appeal will actually be heard by the Superior Court of Ontario, also in downtown Toronto, no matter where you are in the province. At this level there is a panel of at least three judges who will hear the appeal, and in some circumstances, there will be more.