You have sought advice from one of our experienced Solicitors and have decided that you intend to plead guilty to the offence before the Court. The next steps that you take are very important and could have a significant impact on the penalty that you receive.
The following information will help you to prepare for the daunting task of pleading guilty and answer some frequently asked questions.
What happens when I plead guilty?
When you have decided that you are going to plead guilty, there will be a lot of preparation to be carried out by both yourself and your lawyer before you enter the Court room on the day of sentencing.
To give you an understanding, on the day of your sentencing, the day will run something like this:
- You attend Court with your legal representative
- Your legal representative indicates to the Court that you wish to enter a plea of guilty
- The Magistrate will then read the charge out to you and ask how you plead
- You formally enter the plea of guilty
- The Prosecution will then read their version of events to the court
- Your legal representative will then provide a plea in mitigation on your behalf
- The Magistrate will deliver the penalty.
How can I best prepare for Court?
- The first thing that you need to do is get legal advice. Your Solicitor, with experience in that area, will often be able to provide advice on likely penalty outcomes and what you will need to provide to the Court by way of supporting information.
- Obtain character references. Experience has taught us that 3 is the magic number. Therefore we will ask you to obtain at least three (3) character references and a letter from your employer.
- Provide clear instructions. We will always endeavour to have at least one meeting with you face to face, by telephone or through Skype to obtain your instructions. We will then ask you to confirm these instructions in writing to us. The instructions will often include:
- Your version of events that lead to the offence
- You personal circumstances
- Any history of offending behaviour
- Your employment status
- Prepare a plea in mitigation. Once we have obtained clear instructions from you, we will then prepare what is known as a plea in mitigation. This means that we will put together some submissions to the Court to ensure that we achieve the absolute best outcome for you that we can. This is our opportunity to put your version to the Court.
Are the any benefits to entering an early plea of guilty?
The short answer is yes. Under section 13 of the Penalties and Sentences Act 1992, the Court must take a guilty plea into account. That is, any charge which carries a penalty that is determined at the discretion of the Court, if you plead guilty of your own free will rather than being found guilty at trial, the Court must take this into consideration when determining an appropriate sentence. The Court may reduce the sentence that it would have imposed had you not pleaded guilty, but had been found guilty at trial.
When determining the discount to be applied, the Court will have regard to the time that either, a guilty plea had been entered, or, the Court had been informed of an intention to plead guilty. As such, when you come and see one of our lawyers, and you instruct that you would like to proceed with a guilty plea, but your matter is being heard the next day, our lawyers will make that intention known to the Court. Therefore our solicitor can secure that early plea discount, but still adjourn your matter to a later date to prepare the necessary documentation for you.
Why do I need a legal representative?
It is very important to have a legal representative with you when you go to Court. A legal representative knows how to address the Court, negotiate with the Prosecution and how to achieve the best possible result for you. Whether you are facing a drink driving charge or a murder charge, to have a legal representative with you who you can trust to be in your corner will help to take away the stress on the day. Your solicitor will have the knowledge and expertise to achieve the absolute best for you.
Having a legal representative with you shows the Court that you are remorseful for the action which brought you to Court, that you are taking the charge seriously and that you understand the seriousness of the offending behaviour.
One of our experienced Criminal Law team at Kennedy Spanner Lawyers will assist you at every step when preparing for court. We will make sure that you are provided with the necessary tools and advice to ensure that your character references will be accepted and read by the Court. We will be able to make sure that you are represented properly so that the Court receives all the necessary information when sentencing you.
For more help and information regarding how to best prepare for sentencing in the Magistrates Court contact us or call the Criminal Law team at Kennedy Spanner Lawyers on (07) 4639 2944 (Toowoomba) or (07) 3236 9169 (Brisbane and Beenleigh).