What Happens If You Plead Guilty To A Criminal Charge

What Happens If You Plead Guilty To A Criminal Charge

March 24, 2020 Off By Glespynorson

Dealing with a criminal charge can be confusing and daunting. After receiving a prosecution notice, all the information which has been recorded should be carefully checked to ensure that the facts are correct.

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, attendance in court will usually be required. The first step should be a visit to a lawyer who specialises in criminal law:

Seeking Advice From A Criminal Lawyer

Self representation is always an option which people might choose for financial or other personal reasons. However, if the offence is serious or you have had prior convictions you should consult a criminal lawyer to determine the best way to plead to the alleged crime.

You can discuss all of the options, weigh the evidence against you, and have a clear understanding of the court proceedings involved for both guilty or not guilty pleas. A not guilty plea requires a potentially long and complex trial, but pleading guilty will usually only involve a short court process.

Ultimately, it will be your choice, but prior to making a definite decision it is important to be aware of the potential outcomes of your plea.

If You Have Decided To Plead Guilty

To plead guilty means that you accept the charge and agree with the information provided on the police statement. You will receive a sentence from the Magistrate and generally the offence will be on your criminal record.

The Magistrate will understand your guilty plea as significant acceptance of responsibility and willingness to cooperate. If you think you will be found guilty after a long drawn out trial it can sometimes be beneficial to plead guilty in the beginning. This can potentially reduce the severity of the penalty imposed.

What Happens In Court

When you appear in court, with or without legal representation, your name will be called and after the charge is read you will be asked how you wish to plead.

After a guilty plea the court will ask the prosecutor for a summary of your offence.

A Plea In Mitigation

The Magistrate will provide an opportunity for you or your lawyer to present a plea in mitigation prior to sentencing. This is actually a chance to explain the reason behind the offence, to show that you feel remorse and are intent on rehabilitation.

There are some mandatory minimum sentences which must be imposed for certain offences but a plea in mitigation may influence leniency.


After both the guilty plea and plea of mitigation you will receive sentencing either on the same day, or at another date. Depending on the severity of the offence, your personal circumstances, previous criminal record and your plea of mitigation a penalty will be imposed accordingly.

Penalties range from fines, community service, disqualification of driver’s licence, good behaviour bonds, supervision orders, and imprisonment.

The Court Can Make Other Orders

If you have pleaded guilty to a criminal offence, the Magistrate can grant a spent conviction which means that you don’t have to disclose your conviction unless in certain circumstances required by law.

You may be ordered to pay court costs, prosecution costs, compensation for damage or injury related to the offense, and any other costs the Magistrate deems fitting.

Finalising Of The Hearing

With a guilty plea, the matter can often be finalised at the first hearing. In other cases an adjournment to another date may be required.

In any criminal case, legal representation is advisable as the matter can be complex and may require multiple court attendances.