What is a guilty plea?
If you wish to plead guilty you will have to admit the allegations against you as fact. However, there may be some negotiation regarding what the facts truly are with the Crown Prosecutor. This will result in being convicted of the offence charged or possibly a lesser offence with the appropriate sentence determined by a judge. The lawyers at Roulston Urquhart will pursue every possible defence before a client is provided legal advice to plead guilty.
What happens if I plead guilty?
If you wish to enter a plea of guilty, your lawyer at Roulston Urquhart will guide you through the court and criminal charge process. At your court appearance, your lawyer will state to the court that you wish to plead guilty. Before a guilty plea can be entered, your lawyer will canvass section 606(1.1) of the Canadian Criminal Code with you. This section lists the conditions required for an accused to accept a guilty plea. These requirements include that the plea must be made voluntarily, the accused must display an understanding of the nature and consequences of the plea, that the plea is an admission of the essential elements of the offence, and that the court is not bound by any agreement made between the prosecutor and the accused. The judge may be able to complete your sentencing in the same court appearance or a separate date may be set.
Will I be more likely to receive a lesser sentence if I plead guilty before a judge rather than proceed to trial?
It is not possible to state with certainty that entering into a guilty plea will lessen the severity of a sentence. There may be mitigation in a sentence if an accused pleads guilty as it shows remorse, limited court resources such as trial time becomes available, and the complainant does not have to testify. The defence and prosecution may put forward a joint submission. This is a proposed sentence presented to the judge that has been agreed to by both sides. The final decision of the sentence remains with the judge. Multiple factors about the accused and the offence charged may influence the sentence. These include the severity of the offences, whether the accused has a criminal record, level of remorse displayed, and any efforts made by the accused, such as counselling.
How do I know if entering a guilty plea is in my best interest?
The lawyers at Roulston Urquhart will work with you to thoroughly consider all your legal options and explain the potential implications of pleading guilty. Your lawyer’s priority will be negotiating the best option moving forward for your specific case based on the type of charge.