Sydney, Parramatta & Melbourne Criminal Defence Lawyers

Should I Plead Guilty Or Not Guilty?

The decision to plead guilty or not guilty will generally be an easy one for most people charged with a criminal or traffic offence. Statistics show that in 2017, 90.5% of NSW Criminal Court appearances were resolved by a plea of guilty. Generally, the police will not charge you with an offence unless they believe on reasonable grounds that the evidence against you will support a conviction. However, there are often good reasons why you might wish to plead not guilty to the charge or charges against you. These may be:

  1. You have not committed the offence charged against you;
  2. You have committed the offence, but you have a valid defence (e.g. self-defence, necessity, duress);
  3. The evidence does not establish the elements of the offence beyond reasonable doubt.

What A Solicitor Can Do For You

The first point of call when making a decision whether to plead guilty or not guilty is to contact a criminal defence lawyer. They can make an initial assessment of the facts and provide you with advice as to your plea.

If you instruct a solicitor that you intend to plead not guilty, they will at a later stage receive the brief of evidence in your matter. They can then make an in-depth analysis of the evidence against you and advise you on the likely outcome of the matter.

Factors You Should Consider

You should also consider the following factors in making your decision:

  1. The strength of the case against you and any defence you may have available to you.
  2. Whether you are disputing the charge itself or the facts alleged.
    1. If you agree that you are guilty of the offence but disagree with the facts, you can enter a guilty plea and proceed to a disputed facts hearing. Alternatively, your lawyer can negotiate with the prosecution to amend the facts.
  3. The benefit of entering a guilty plea;
    1. A plea of guilty is a matter that can be taken into account in determining your sentence. A plea of guilty at the earliest opportunity will entitle you to a 25% discount on the sentence you would otherwise receive for the offence.
  4. The costs associated with the matter.

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