Criminal Appeals

Criminal appeals are a serious matter requiring a distinct skillset and thorough understanding of complex legal issues. As such, you should choose your appellate lawyer carefully.

Peter Sankoff is a successful appellate lawyer who has won numerous cases at both the Alberta Court of Appeal and The Supreme Court of Canada. His expertise in appellate practice is recognized by the many defence lawyers across the country who regularly consult him on their own appeals.

Peter’s extensive academic background in criminal law lends itself well to the complex legal questions that typically land before appellate courts. As someone who regularly writes and updates books on criminal and evidence law, he is well-placed to identify grounds and advance strong and novel arguments on appeal. Peter does not run trials; his practice is exclusively based in running complex legal applications and working on appeals.

Peter’s detail-oriented and creative approach to tackling appeals has been passed down to the firm’s associates, who benefit from his ongoing mentorship. Peter normally works with another member of our team to ensure that multiple perspectives are applied to your case. When we take your case, our team will keep you well-informed about the appeal process, and work tirelessly to maximize your chances of success. Most clients don’t put enough thought into a potential appeal when involved in the trial process, and know little about how it works. We’ll explain everything to you.

One thing you should know from the outset: it is almost never wise for your trial lawyer to act as your appeal lawyer, no matter how well they may have performed at first instance. There is a good chance that they will be asked to explain or defend choices they made at trial, which is not a problem a new appeal lawyer will face— they will instead be given the benefit of the doubt as they were not involved in the trial.

An appeal lawyer can also approach the matter with a fresh set of eyes and find errors that the trial lawyer likely would not have considered. In truth, being an appellate lawyer is quite different from being a trial lawyer.  Here at Sankoff Criminal Law, our speciality is in reviewing trial transcripts, searching out legal errors, keeping in touch with legal developments nationwide and finding innovative arguments that give you the very best chance at getting a new trial or an acquittal.

The appeal process has strict timelines that you need to be aware of. It is important to be prepared to act quickly and consult with an appeal lawyer as soon as possible, even before you have been sentenced. Ideally, you would consult whenever conviction becomes a realistic possibility.

The sooner you act, the less the appeal will cost and the better your chances are of securing a successful outcome. This may include bail while the appeal is being considered.

If you are considering an appeal, even if you are still awaiting sentencing, contact us today for a consultation.

Successful Appeals

Sankoff Criminal Law’s dedicated appellate lawyers have acted successfully on a number of important criminal cases at both the Alberta Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court of Canada. Some of Peter’s notable cases include the following:

  • R v Suter, in which the Supreme Court reversed the Alberta Court of Appeal’s decision to raise a sentence from 4 to 26 months of imprisonment for refusing to provide a breath sample.
  • R v DLW, a Supreme Court case concerning the legal definition of bestiality.
  • R v Barton, a successful Supreme Court appeal on sexual assault, murder/manslaughter.
  • R v Churchill, an Alberta Court of Appeal Case in which the sentence in a drug trafficking case was successfully appealed and reduced.
  • R v Al-Askari, in which the Alberta Court of Appeal overruled the trial judge and found that the accused’s s.8 Charter right to be free from unreasonable search or seizure was infringed.
  • R v Sunderji, the accused’s assault causing bodily harm conviction was struck on appeal.
  • R v Whiskeyjack, a successful appeal where a first-degree murder conviction was overturned and a new trial ordered.
  • R v Cervantes, a new trial in sexual assault case where trial judge provided insufficient reasons.
  • Hardy v Rumancik, an overturned chambers decision allowing access to plaintiff’s materials protected by solicitor client privilege.
  •  R v Bobrosky, an obtained bail in sexual assault trial where Crown contested.
  • Denis v Sauvageau, successfully had conviction for contempt quashed for improper procedure.
  • R v McKenna, obtained bail pending appeal to Supreme Court of Canada over Crown’s objection.

Related Publications

The Law of Witnesses and Evidence in Canada

In "The Law of Witnesses and Evidence in Canada", Lead Counsel at Sankoff Criminal Law, Peter Sankoff, provides expert analysis of evidentiary issues as they arise in legal proceedings. The book covers many questions that arise daily in criminal trial proceedings, including those related to hearsay, competence, compellability, privilege, examination, and cross-examination.


Criminal Law

In the 5th Edition of "Criminal Law", Peter Sankoff co-authors a critical examination of the criminal law in Canada. Cited by the Supreme Court of Canada and appellate courts across the country, this book has proven to be an essential resource for Crown and defence counsel alike. The book explores numerous trial-related topics, including an analysis of Criminal Code offences and commonly raised defences.