6. If I am convicted and I want to lodge an appeal, what should I do? Can I appeal against the conviction or sentence or both?
You can lodge an appeal against either or both the conviction and the sentence. You must however bear in mind the time limits for filing the appeal documents, and consider carefully whether or not you have proper grounds for the appeal. Extension of these time limits will only be given in special circumstances.
For an appeal against a Magistrate's decision, the time limit is 14 days from the date when the Magistrate passed the sentence (or penalty), and the appeal will be made to the Judge of the Court of First Instance of the High Court. Alternatively, you may within the 14 days' period apply to the Magistrate who convicted you for a review of his decision. If the review is unsuccessful, you may then appeal to the Judge of the Court of First Instance within 14 days from the review decision. For an appeal against the verdict of the District Court or the Court of First Instance, the time limit is 28 days and the appeal goes to the Court of Appeal of the High Court. Technically, the Court of Appeal will first decide whether or not to grant leave (i.e. permission) to appeal before hearing the actual appeal. However, the Court of Appeal will often combine the application for leave and the actual appeal together at one hearing.
You should not proceed with an appeal without considering carefully in advance whether you have proper grounds for the appeal. There is a possibility that you may be worsen off. For example, if you appeal against the sentence, the higher court which hears the appeal may impose a heavier sentence if it takes the view that the original sentence is too lenient. Moreover, if the Court of Appeal considers that the appeal is unmeritorious (or unreasonable), it has the power to order that certain period that the convicted offender spent in prison between his conviction and the appeal be disregarded in calculating his original sentence (see section 83W of the Criminal Procedure Ordinance).
Hence, it is important that you consult your lawyer or seek Legal Aid before you decide whether or not to lodge or continue with your appeal. You may abandon your appeal by serving a written notice to the Court before the appeal hearing (if on further consideration you accept that you do not have proper grounds for the appeal).