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Successful revision against a criminal judgement? - Possible with us! -

The successful revision in criminal proceedings

-The supreme discipline of legal practice-

Appeal proceedings against a criminal judgement are often the last hope for those affected to escape the consequences of the judgement. This applies regardless of whether or not the actual conviction was "justified" from the perspective of the person concerned. The legal justification for an appeal is highly complex.

In court practice, less than 10 per cent of all appeals lodged are successful. However, the statistics say nothing about how the chances of success are to be assessed in specific individual cases.

Here is an example of a successful revision from our practice:

In the case we took on, our client was convicted in two instances (1st instance: District Court Wanne-Eickel; 2nd instance: Regional Court Bochum) for an offence he had never committed.

The original courts convicted the defendant, who had never been convicted of a criminal offence, solely on the basis of the testimony of a police officer from the Bochum police headquarters, although the defendant was able to present an exonerating witness who contradicted the police officer's statements.

In an almost thirty-page statement of grounds for appeal, we worked out all the legal errors committed by the original court in a "legally clean" manner and presented them to the criminal senate.

Our commitment paid off in the end. The competent senate of the Hamm Higher Regional Court agreed with our legal opinion and overturned the criminal judgement at issue.

It is part of our self-image that we make our own statistics, regardless of how "bad" the odds seem to be.

A glance at the current statistics does not reveal that a large number of appeal proceedings are initiated in order to delay the entry into force of a criminal judgement. By proceeding in this way, a lawyer buys his convicted client more time, as the penalty only has to be paid or incurred once the actual criminal proceedings have been "finally" concluded and have thus become "unassailable". The existence of a final judgement is a basic prerequisite for the subsequent enforcement proceedings.

The following article provides an overview of what the appeal procedure actually is and what special features need to be taken into account:

I. What is the revision?

In addition to an appeal, a revision is an (ordinary) legal remedy. This means that a higher court reviews the disputed court decision.

In contrast to an appeal, the scope of review on revision is limited to errors of law. This means that the revision court does not take any new evidence, but merely limits its review to whether the original court correctly applied the law to the facts it "established" or whether the judgement findings provide a viable basis for review by the revision court.

The situation is different on appeal. The court of appeal takes evidence again, assesses the results of the evidence independently and reaches a "new" decision.

II. When is the appeal admissible?

Revision is admissible against judgements of the criminal divisions (at the regional court), the jury courts (at the regional court) and the judgements of the higher regional courts handed down at first instance (Section 333 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, StPO).

In addition, a further appeal (Section 335 of the StPO) against decisions against which an appeal is admissible is also permitted. An appeal is generally admissible against judgements by the criminal judge (at the local court) or the lay assessor's court (at the local court), so that convicted persons have the right to "waive" the appeal and lodge an appeal directly with the competent higher regional court.

III What deadlines must be observed?

1. deadline for filing the revision

Pursuant to Section 341 (1) of the StPO, the appeal must be filed in writing or on the record of the court registry within one week of the judgement being pronounced.

The revision must be filed by the defendant himself, by an authorised representative or by the defendant's defence counsel.

2. deadline for substantiating the revision

The time limit for giving reasons for an appeal is one month and generally begins with the service of the judgement (Section 345 (1) sentences 1 and 3 of the StPO). Under certain circumstances, the time limit for giving reasons may be extended.

IV. Course of the revision procedure

Once the grounds of revision have been submitted in due form and time, the Public Prosecutor General's Office (for appeals before a Higher Regional Court) or the Federal Public Prosecutor General's Office (for appeals before the Federal Court of Justice) is given the opportunity to submit a statement.

As a rule, the latter applies for the revision to be dismissed as inadmissible or manifestly unfounded.

The application of the Public Prosecutor General's Office or the Federal Public Prosecutor General's Office is communicated to the appellant for reasons of the right to be heard. The appellant may submit a corresponding counterstatement.

V. Possible decisions of the court of revision

If the court of revision deems the provisions on the filing of the appeal or those on the filing of the applications for appeal not to be observed, it may dismiss the appeal as inadmissible by order.

If the court of revision unanimously considers the appeal to be manifestly unfounded, it may dismiss the revision by order.

If the court of appeal unanimously considers the appeal to be well-founded, it can, as in our example case, set aside the judgement of the court of origin and refer the case back for a new hearing and decision. Under certain circumstances, the court of appeal can also decide itself and even acquit the defendant.

In all other cases, the court of revision decides by judgement. In practice, judgements in appeal proceedings are extremely rare.

IV. Conclusion

Those affected who wish to defend themselves against a criminal judgement must be quick and contact a lawyer as soon as possible.

Statutory time limits exist for both appeals and revisions. If such a deadline is missed, there is usually no realistic possibility of having the disputed judgement reviewed by a court.

Affected parties who wish to defend themselves against a criminal judgement should contact our law firm at short notice. We will discuss the possible next steps and the financial terms of our mandate in a telephone call at short notice.

Tolga Topuz

April 2024 - Düsseldorf -

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