Deciding whether or not to plead guilty to a criminal offence is arguably the most important decision a defendant will have to make during the entire process.
While lawyers can educate you and give their opinion on the matter, it is ultimately the defendant’s decision on whether to plead guilty or not.
Before making a decision either way, we recommend learning the pros and cons of pleading guilty in your case. Here is some general advice or can read more about Section 10 and pleading guilty without a conviction.
The Advantages of Pleading Guilty
Traditionally, pleading guilty leads to a lighter penalty for the defendant, depending on what the charge is. In some cases, declaring yourself guilty may be a way of reducing your potential jail time. When defendants are offered to plead to a less serious charge by the prosecutor, the final penalty may be reduced even further.
Pleading not guilty and going to trial can be a process that takes months or years to resolve. During this time, defendants are living in a world of uncertainty and potential mental anguish. This may be something that the defendant will want to avoid or limit by simply pleading guilty at the outset.
The Disadvantages of Pleading Guilty
After pleading guilty, depending on the severity of the offence the court may impose a penalty straight away or take some time to determine the appropriate penalty. The case is often moved through the judicial system quickly, giving the guilty party very little time to organise their affairs.
Some offences carry a penalty of jail time and pleading guilty to an offence can still lead to multiple years in jail. This sort of conviction can be life changing and it is only natural that people may want ample time to settle their employment and family issues. Pleading guilty may not afford you that luxury.
Pleading Guilty in the Absence of a Plea Bargain
In more serious criminal matters the defendant may be offered an option to plead to a less serious charge on the condition that a plea of guilty is entered into, this process is commonly referred to as ‘plea bargaining’.
However, some prosecutors may choose not to offer a plea bargain early in court proceedings, and in some cases, they may not offer one at all. Sometimes, it is best if the accused heads towards trial and waits for a plea bargain to be offered at a later date. This high risk, high reward strategy has, at times, been incredibly effective.
Trust the legal team at DGB Lawyers to provide the best legal advice in Wollongong, Oak Flats and the surrounding suburbs. Contact us today for more details and personalised advice about your case.