Pleading guilty to criminal wrong-doing in the Magistrates’ Court can have a far reaching impact on your life. The outcome may affect your immediate freedom, employment, personal relationships, firearm licence, and ability to travel. You must therefore give your plea hearing priority to ensure your outcome is not compromised. This article will provide some general tips on how to optimise your plea hearing.
Generally, an impactful plea submission is one that can assure the sentencing Magistrate that things are in place to reduce the likelihood of re-offending. This is demonstrated by undergoing courses relevant to the offending such as alcohol and drug counselling, driving, and anger management courses. Ideally, you should engage with a course before your plea hearing because the Magistrate will treat this as a mitigating factor.
Ask people who personally know you such as family members, friends and work colleagues to write a character reference. Character references give the Magistrate an insight into your character and your role in your social network.
Understand what you are Pleading Guilty to
It goes without saying that you must understand what you are pleading guilty to and what has been agreed to in the summary of agreed facts. These form the basis of what you will be sentenced for. Depending on what you plead guilty to, there may be mandatory penalties.
Dressing appropriately shows deference to the Court. It demonstrates to the Magistrate that you respect the process and are treating your matter seriously.
Your matter will be listed in a busy Court room with other matters. Therefore, you should sit quietly while you wait for your matter to be called on. Avoid reacting to other people’s cases and fidgeting with your mobile phone.
Take a seat directly behind your solicitor or barrister in the front row of chairs in the body of the Court when your matter is called on. Again, it is important you sit still while the prosecutor reads the summary of agreed facts. The Magistrate will observe your demeanour.
Preparation is fundamental to a great outcome in the Magistrates’ Court. Make sure you retain a criminal defence lawyer who will treat your matter with the importance it deserves. Contact us on 9317 9712 if you would like tailored advice.