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Introduction - Appeals process

Appeal (First Appeal; Second Appeal)

The First Appeal is the appeal in the appellate court against the trial court’s decision. The Second Appeal is the appeal in the Supreme Court against the appellate court’s decision. The First Appeal and Second Appeal are collectively referred as the appeal.
Who has the right to appeal?
The defendant and the defendant’s legal agents, spouse, lineal relations, siblings or the agent or defense counsel in the original trial may appeal on the defendant’s behalf. Provided, however, the defendant’s legal agents, spouse, lineal relations, siblings or the agent or defense counsel in the original trial may not appeal against the express wishes of the defendant (e.g., waiver of appeals, etc.)
Method of filing an appeal
The appeal has to be filed by paper and no oral appeal is allowed. Also, the appeal must be filed with the court that has rendered the decision that is the subject of the appeal.
Appeals court
Appeal against the judgment rendered by a single judge at the Seoul Central District Court will be heard by the appellate division of the Seoul Central District Court while the judgment rendered by a panel of judges at the Seoul Central District Court will be heard by the Seoul High Court. The appeal from the First Appeal will be head by the Supreme Court.
Appeals period
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The period for filing the First Appeal or the Second Appeal is 7 days from the date of the judgment (the date of judgment is not included). Unlike in the civil procedure, the date of service has no significance.
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It should be noted that the 7 days allowed for filing the appeal includes the holidays and Saturdays. Provided, however, if the last day of the appeals period is a holiday, then the appeal should be filed by the next day while, if the last day is a Saturday, then by the following Monday.
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Also, the appeal is effective only if it arrives at the appropriate court within the appeals period. Provided, however, if a defendant who is confined in a penitentiary or a detention center submits the appeal to the head of the penitentiary or the detention center within the appeals period, then, even if the appeal arrives at the court after the appeals period, it shall be deemed that it was submitted within the appeals period.
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If the appeal is received at the court after the appeals period, then because the appeal was filed after the right to appeal has been extinguished, the court that rendered the original decision will dismiss the appeal.
Period for submitting the statement of reasons for appeal
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Submission period
When filing for an appeal, the submission of the statement of appeal alone would suffice. However, the court that rendered the original decision forwards the trial record to the appeals court depending on the appeal. When the appeals court receives the records, it notified the appellant of the fact that the records have been received. The appellant must submit a statement of reasons for appeal to the appeals court within 20 days from the notice.
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Dismissal
If the statement of reasons is not submitted within the required period, the appeal is dismissed without any deliberations upon the appeal. Therefore, this could be avoided if the appellant provides the reasons for appeal in advance in the appeal. Provided, however, if a defendant who is confined in a penitentiary or a detention center submits the statement of reasons for appeal to the head of the penitentiary or the detention center, or to anyone who acts on their behalf within the statement of reasons for appeal period, then, even if the statement of reasons for appeal arrives at the court after the required period, it shall be deemed that it was submitted within the required period.
Reason for appeal
For the First Appeal, the appellant may assert the reasons for appeal freely including that he/she has never committed the crime stated in the decision rendered by the original court or that the sentence is too excessive. However, for the Second Appeal, the appellant may not cite the excessiveness of sentence as the reason for appeal unless the appellant has been sentenced to death, life imprisonment, or imprisonment of at least 10 years.
Rule against modifications to the defendant’s disadvantage
When only the defendant appeals and not the prosecutor, the appeals court may not impose a heavier sentence than in the court that rendered the original decision.