You’re given two choices when you’re charged with a crime:
The first is to plead guilty and accept the charges brought against you. When you plead guilty, you confirm that you committed a crime with intent.
Or, you can plead not guilty and deny that you’ve committed the acts that you are accused of. After this statement is entered, a trial will be held, in which the Crown will try to prove that you committed the crime beyond a reasonable doubt.
Deciding what to plead is seldom a clear-cut decision. There are several factors to consider before you make your statement. Here are a few facts to take into account before you decide how to plead:
What Happens When I Plead Guilty?
It’s important to know the consequences of pleading guilty before you do so.
The first is that no trial will be held to prove that you were responsible for breaking the law. Next, you will be sentenced. The judge will decide on a punishment for the crimes you have admitted to.
The court will consider whether the accused person pleads guilty when they are determining a sentence. This is because pleading guilty will eliminate the need for a trial and thereby reduce strain on the justice system. It also shows that one has taken responsibility for their wrongdoings, which can be helpful for the victim and their family. As a result, pleading guilty can help decrease one’s sentence.
One thing to note about pleading guilty is that once you do so, it is very difficult to withdraw this claim. That’s why you must weigh your options carefully before making your decision.
What Sentences Could I Receive?
Once you plead guilty, the judge will decide on your sentencing and conviction. You may receive one or more of the following, depending on the severity of the crime:
- A criminal record
- A fine
- Jail time
- Mandated community service
It’s important to understand these consequences before you plead guilty and forgo your right to a trial.
How Do I Plead Guilty?
During the court process, the list of charges brought against you will be read aloud. This is called an arraignment.
Before you plead guilty, the court clerk or judge will ask a series of questions to make sure that you understand your options. They will ask if you are pleading guilty voluntarily, or if you have been coerced/forced by another party. Next, they will remind you that if you admit guilt, no trial will be held. Finally, they will state that a guilty plea certifies that you admit to committing the charges brought against you. The judge will then ask how you plead to these charges. At this point, you will be able to state if you agree with the facts of the case or not.
Whether you should plead guilty or not guilty is a complicated choice. Given the legal ramifications of criminal charges, this is not a decision you should make lightly. If you have been charged with a crime, you need a Winnipeg criminal defence attorney on your side. The lawyers at Brodsky Amy & Gould can help you understand all the options available to you, and decide if pleading guilty is in your best interests.