If you elect to plead guilty to the charge(s) against you, the Prosecution will prepare a Statement of Facts (“SOF”), which you will need to agree to without qualification. The Court will then convict and sentence you based on the SOF.
Once your guilty plea has been recorded, and you have been convicted and sentenced by the judge, you will not be able to retract your plea thereafter, save for exceptional circumstances. You will also not be able appeal against your conviction. However, you remain able to appeal against the sentence imposed on you if you choose to do so.
On the other hand, if you elect to contest the charges by claiming trial, the Prosecution will have to prove your guilt to the Judge beyond a reasonable doubt by calling witnesses to give evidence against you. You will have the opportunity to cross-examine the Prosecution’s witnesses, and to call your own witnesses to give evidence on your behalf. The judge will then determine whether you are guilty, and convict/acquit you accordingly.
You are entitled to claim trial to the charges against you, and you will not be penalised by the court for doing so. However, if you elect to plead guilty to the charges, the court may in its discretion reduce the sentence imposed on you.
Given the differences between pleading guilty and claiming trial, it is therefore important for you to seek legal advice before making this important decision. A lawyer may also try to seek from the Prosecution an indication of the sentence that they will be seeking if you plead guilty to the charges. This indication may also inform your decision on whether you wish to plead guilty or claim trial.
A lawyer may also try to seek from the Prosecution a plea offer and an indication of the sentence that they will be seeking if you plead guilty to the charges. This information may also inform your decision on whether you wish to plead guilty or claim trial.
If you require more information that are not listed in our articles, or legal advice on a specific matter, please contact us for a free first consultation.