Should I plead guilty? What are the benefits of pleading guilty in court?
It is important to understand all of your legal options before making a decision to plead guilty.
Your first step is to have an experienced lawyer look over the evidence in your case. Remember, the prosecution are required to prove “beyond reasonable doubt” that you are guilty of the offence. Often, despite the overwhelming inference that you have committed a criminal offence, the Prosecution have simply not done their job properly, or have charged you with the wrong offence.
Each element of the offence must be proven, beyond reasonable doubt.
What are benefits of pleading guilty in court?
The main benefits of pleading guilty are a discount resulting in a reduction of the penalty. Further it is usually evidence of some remorse on the part of the offender, and second, on the pragmatic ground that the community is spared the expense of a contested trial. Trials are expensive to the community!
Very often, the evidence in criminal cases are strong. Despite common belief, a vast majority of criminal cases are dealt with by way of a plea of guilty and sentencing proceedings. Courts look favourably upon those who plead guilty at the first opportunity, and those who do are treating much more leniently than those who take cases to trial.
Pleading guilty also results in the matter being finalised early and for the client is also means significantly less legal costs.
Criminal cases can often be finalised by what we call “plea bargaining”. This is a situation when the prosecution and the defence negotiate what charges a defendant can plead guilty to in order to finalise the proceedings in an amicable way. Plea bargaining can be very effective in getting a good deal, and not having to face more serious charges.
What is maximum discount for pleading guilty in court?
Generally, a person is entitled a discount of 25% for a guilty plea at the earliest opportunity. The discount is lost if a matter is defended and the offences are found proved. For example, if the court decides that you should have been sentenced to 4 years imprisonment, but you pleaded guilty to the offence at the earliest opportunity (that is in the local court), you will be entitled to a discount off your sentence of 1 year. This means that your sentence would be 3 years imprisonment instead of 4.
There are further discounts that apply to those who assist in the administration of justice, extra discounts apply for that assistance.
Seeking leaving advice?
The prosecution bears the burden of proving that you a guilty of an offence. Often the police do not have enough evidence to prove an offence has occurred beyond reasonable doubt or have charged you with the wrong offence. It is often best, to seek legal advice if you are unsure whether you should be pleading guilty or not. It is only after sound legal advice a plea should be entered particularly with the more serious charges. You do not want to be getting into trouble for something you haven’t committed.
If you are unsure whether you should plead guilty, call one of our experienced solicitors at LY Lawyers on 1300 595 299, for a free consultation.