Entering a plea
Once you have been charged with a criminal offence, your matters will ordinarily be listed to go before the Court for what is called a “mention”. When you appear on this first occasion, it is important (if you are unrepresented at that point) to seek an adjournment of your charges so you can seek advice from a criminal defence lawyer who will be able to assist you with:
Understanding the charge and the allegations;
Obtaining any disclosure (evidence) that is held by the Police in the early stages of the matter; and
Obtaining your instructions as to how you wish to deal with the charges (plea guilty, not guilty or await the receipt of further evidence).
What your criminal defence lawyer can do if the case against you is weak
This advice is important and should not be overlooked as it will ensure that your criminal charges are approached with the benefit of comprehensive advice. Likewise, if there are obvious problems with the prosecution’s case, you’ll have the comfort of knowing your position from an early stage in the proceedings. When that is the case, your criminal defence lawyer may be able to correspond with the prosecution and propose that, in the circumstances, your charges should be discontinued.
What your lawyer can do if the prosecution case against you is strong
Conversely, if your criminal defence lawyer takes your instructions and, together with his consideration of all of the material, forms the view that the case against you is very strong (or overwhelming), then that early advice will be important to assisting you in deciding whether you wish to enter an early plea of guilty. There are important benefits to an offender when they enter a plea of guilty at an early stage. For instance, section 9AA of the Sentencing Act 1995 (WA) allows for the Court to reduce a sentence that would have otherwise been imposed by up to 25% when a plea of guilty has been entered in relation to a charge. An early plea is otherwise a reflection of an offender’s remorse and contrition for their actions, and so it is mitigating in this general sense as well. In some instances, this demonstration of remorse can be a determinative factor for the Court when considering whether it is appropriate to order that a term of imprisonment be suspended, as opposed to being served immediately.
Criminal charges require detailed advice from an experienced criminal defence lawyer. If you have recently been charged with (or expect to be charged with) a serious offence, feel free to contact me urgently on 0431 454 908 or otherwise fill out the form below and I’ll endeavour to get back to you within the hour.