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When Should You Claim for Trial?

The question of “when should the accused claim for trial” and “when the accused should consider not to plead guilty” are essentially one of the same.

As pleading guilty means to admit to the charge, including the statement(s) of fact read to the accused and the offence(s) stated in the charge sheet(s), the accused should only consider not to plead guilty if he/she intends to dispute the charge(s) and/or the essential fact(s) in the Statement of Facts. As pleading guilty early is an indication of remorse, the Court will usually be of the view of the contrary if the accused is contending the charge sheet(s) and the statement of fact(s) produced before him. As such,  an accused ought to only consider claiming trial instead of pleading guilty when he/she is certain that the Court will find him/her innocent and acquit him/her of all the charge(s) that he/she intends to dispute.

When the accused expressed his intention to not plead guilty or shown his/her reluctance to plead guilty, the Court will order for a Pre-Trial Conference to be fixed for the accused to prepare for his/her Defence. Thereafter, a hearing date will be scheduled for the public prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had committed the offence and the accused is allowed to defend himself/herself by convincing the Court otherwise. If the public prosecutor succeeds in their case, the accused can no longer rely on remorse as a mitigating factor as the accused had failed to plead guilty and thereby, failed to show that he/she had been remorseful of his/her past conduct.

Steps in Criminal Trial

When the accused expressed his intention to not plead guilty or shown his/her reluctance to plead guilty, the Court will order for a Pre-Trial Conference to be fixed for the accused to prepare for his/her trial. This includes the preparation of his/her Defence, evidence(s) (if any) and witness(es) (if any). The accused may also wish to prepare a cross-examination question for the prosecutor’s witness(es). The purpose of the Pre-Trial Conference is to ensure that the parties are ready to proceed to trial before the trial date is provided to both the public prosecutor and the accused.

Prior to the day of the trial, the Court may also suggest for a Criminal Case Disclosure Conference wherein both the accused and the public prosecutor must reveal their case(s) and evidence(s) that they intend to rely on during the day of the hearing. Such evidence(s) may include the list of the witness(es) and the written statement(s) of the witness(es) if any.

The Court may also require the accused and the public prosecutor to submit their Case wherein the public prosecutor will submit the summary of his/her case, the facts in support of the prosecution and the particulars of the evidence(s) that the prosecutor will be relying on in the trial. The accused on the other hand is required to submit a summary of their Defence, the facts that the accused is relying on and the particulars of the evidence(s) that the accused wishes to rely on.

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Thereafter, a hearing date will be scheduled for the public prosecutor to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had committed the offence and the accused is allowed to defend himself/herself by convincing the Court otherwise. The charge(s) and the statement of fact(s) will be read out to the accused again before proceeding to the trial.

If the public prosecutor succeeds in their case, the accused can no longer rely on remorse as a mitigating factor as the accused had failed to plead guilty and thereby, failed to show that he/she had been remorseful of his/her past conduct. The matter will then proceed to mitigation hearing wherein the accused will now submit for any mitigation factor that the Court ought to consider before providing the sentence. Occasionally, the Court may also request parties to submit their closing submissions by way of oral submission.

The Court may then proceed to sentence.

If the public prosecutor failed to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt, the Court might then acquit the accused of the charge(s), and the accused will be free to leave the Court.

At any stage during the trial, the Court may alter, change or provide a new charge(s) against the accused if the Court deems necessary before calling for the accused. The accused may also choose to claim trial for the new charge(s) or to simply plead guilty for the same.

Can I Retract My Intention to Plead Guilty to Go for Trial?

As the accused has the prerogative power to decide if he/she intends to plead guilty, the accused may at any stages of the criminal mention, seek to retract his intention to plead guilty and to dispute the offence(s) at any time before the sentence was meted out by the Court.

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Our specialised lawyers and their team are standing by to assist you. Our first consultation is free.

The information contained within this website contains general information about our lawyers, Law Firm and procedures and is not intended to constitute legal advice.
Any person viewing or receiving information from this Website should not act or refrain from acting, on the basis of any such information without first seeking appropriate legal advice.
Please consult a lawyer for specific review of your case and advise. 

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Joint Managing Partner

Joint Managing Partner

Enquiry from Emerald Law

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Joint Managing Partner

Joint Managing Partner

Enquiry from Emerald Law

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