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Myths about our work

Many myths surround the work that we do. It is important to us that you know how we work to make sure you get the right facts.

Here are the most popular myths about us with the answers that you need.

“It costs money to lodge an appeal with you”

No, it doesn’t. We do not charge anything so applying to us will not cost you any money. Our service is free.

Some people choose to apply themselves, others with legal representation. The costs are absorbed by us unless an applicant wishes to appoint a lawyer of their choice and is also unable to access legal aid.

If you apply to us and your case is referred to the appeal court, the court cannot add to your sentence even if they turn down your appeal.

“You are a Government organisation aren’t you?”

No. We are an independent, public body responsible for investigating alleged miscarriages of justice.

“But it’s the Government that pay for you”

We are actually funded by the Ministry of Justice (MoJ).

“Will my sentence be extended if I apply?”

If you apply to us and your case is referred to the appeal court, the court cannot add to your sentence even if they turn down your appeal. 

“Will I hear from you after I have applied?”

Yes. Most of the time we will write to you or your representative.

If you have given us an email address, we will use that instead of the post. 

We always send a letter in the post to acknowledge when an application has arrived. If you have applied to us and have not had a letter from us within ten days, please get in touch again.

We will usually post a letter to tell you about any developments in your case.  Please make sure we have the right address for you. Don’t forget to tell us if your address changes or you move prisons.

There are rules on communicating with the CCRC from prison.  These rules are set out in Prison Service Order 4400. If you have trouble with reading or writing, we will try to find a suitable way of communicating with you.

We will also consider translating material into other languages where necessary.

“I can’t afford a lawyer – can I get Legal Aid?”

A solicitor may be able to get funding to help with your case under the Legal Aid scheme. You can get advice about finding a lawyer by contacting Civil Legal Advice on 0845 345 4345.

“How would you communicate with me about my case?”

Most of the time we will write to you or your representative.

If you have given us an email address, we will use that instead of the post. We always send a letter in the post to acknowledge when an application has arrived. If you have applied to us and have not had a letter from us within ten days, please get in touch again.

We will usually post a letter to tell you about any developments in your case. Please make sure we have the right address for you. Don’t forget to tell us if your address changes or you move prisons.

There are rules on communicating with the CCRC from prison. These rules are set out in Prison Service Order 4400. If you have trouble with reading or writing, we will try to find a suitable way of communicating with you.

We will also consider translating material into other languages where necessary.

“What do you mean by independent exactly?”

We function as a completely independent, arms length body (ALB). This means that we are independent of the police, the courts, the government and any other organisations or political bodies.

“But do you have any real power or authority?”

Our special legal powers give us access into criminal cases in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. Section 17 of the Criminal Appeal Act 1995 allows us to get hold of any documents and records held by a public body when we review and investigate a case. This includes police evidence, forensics, medical records and military records – even material marked ‘secret’.

“Isn’t there already an appeals process – what is different about you?”

Anyone convicted usually has 28 days to lodge an appeal immediately afterwards. For this reason, most of our cases have already been through the usual appeals process. Only we have the power to refer a case back to the courts for a fresh appeal. When reading an application, we specifically look for new information that makes a difference. This could be new evidence or fresh information. Either way, there must be real possibility that this could prove a wrongful conviction.