Going to Court
If you have been charged with criminal offences, it is important to receive detailed legal advice as soon as possible regarding pleading guilty or not guilty, and the potential consequences of pleading guilty or what happens next if you choose to plead not guilty.
Before you enter a plea, it is important to obtain a copy of the police brief of evidence from the police officer who arrested you, so that are fully aware of the evidence the Police have against you.
For certain types of offences – if you choose to plead guilty and are a first time offender, the Criminal Justice Diversion Program (“Diversion”) is a program that helps first time offenders avoid a criminal record by agreeing to various conditions that benefit the offender, victim, and the community as a whole. For example, this might include payment of a fine, completion of a period of community service, writing a letter of apology, attending counselling or or completing a behavioural change course.
If you have a serious criminal history, it is unlikely that would be able to access the Diversion program, and your sentence is likely to be much more serious than a first time offender.
Pleading Not Guilty
If you choose to plead not guilty, it is likely that your matter will be adjourned to another date and listed as a contest mention. At this next court date, the Police will have an opportunity to have witnesses attend, and/or produce evidence, to support the Police’s case against you, and you will have the same opportunity to have witnesses attend and/or produce other evidence that supports your own case. At the end of the day, both you or your legal representation and the Police have the opportunity to make submissions to the Magistrate about the decision they should make based on the evidence the Police and you/your legal representation has produced.
If you are found not guilty, you are free to leave. If you are found not guilty, the Magistrate will then consider what penalty you should be sentenced with, which might include entering Diversion, a more serious monetary fine, a suspended sentence, a good behaviour bond, and/or incarceration.