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What Does It Mean to Plead Guilty

When the Public Prosecutor charges an accused, a notice will be issued to the accused to attend Court for Criminal Mention. The accused are required to attend the first mention at the Criminal Mention Court, wherein the charge(s) will be read and explained to the accused. The accused will then be given the option to either admit to the charge(s) or to deny the charge(s) read before him.

Pleading guilty means admitting to the change(s) read to you and therefore, admitting that the offence(s) were committed by the Accused and to the fact(s) as stated in the Charge sheet. 

What Happen if you Plead Guilty?

The accused is given the liberty to decide whether he/she wishes to plead guilty and admit to the charge(s) against him/her and when he/she wishes to do so. It is not necessary for the accused to plead guilty to all the charge(s) against him/her as he/she may choose to proceed with some of the charges and choose to contest the other charges against him/her if any.

When an accused is prepared to plead guilty to the charge(s), the court will proceed to a plead guilty mention wherein the accused may highlight to the court mitigating factor(s) that may be taken into consideration by the court to provide for a lesser sentence. If the plead guilty mention is done before the trial, the accused and public prosecutor are not required to provide any evidence or to call any witnesses to the court.

If the accused is not prepared for the Plead Guilty mention but is not intending to dispute the charge(s) and the statement(s) of facts read before him, the court may grant an adjournment thereby postponing the Plead Guilty mention date to allow the accused to prepare his/her mitigation plea. An adjournment may also be granted by the court to allow the accused to seek legal advice for his/her matter. 

Once the Plead Guilty mention had been completed, the accused may be convicted based on the mitigating factors and the aggravating factors highlighted during the Plead Guilty mention.

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 What is the Benefit of Pleading Guilty?

Pleading guilty can save the time and cost of all the parties involved, including the accused. A criminal trial can be a long, tedious and expensive process. Usually, without evidence to the contrary, it can be difficult to dismiss the charge(s) and/or the potential sentence entirely so long as an offence had been committed. As the court has the discretionary power to lower or change the charge to a similar (but lower) offences during the trial, it is best to seek legal advice to query whether the act committed is an offence (or a related offence as it may be) against the law.

Pleading guilty at an early stage can also be taken as an indicator that the accused is remorseful for his action and it is commonly viewed as a mitigating factor that the court will consider when the sentence is meted out to the accused.

Why Might an Accused Plead NOT Guilty?

An accused may consider not to plead guilty if (1) he/she does not commit the act or the offence, or (2) the offence or act was committed but was done with defence.

Pleading NOT guilty means that the court will place the matter to the stages of a trial proceeding wherein a Pre-Trial Conference date will be provided for a future hearing. The prosecution must then prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused had committed the act based on account of witness(es) and evidence(s) available. The accused may also at this stage, provide evidence to prove that he/she is not guilty or that he/she has a defence.

The accused may still inform the court if he/she wishes to plead guilty at any stage leading to the date of the trial, before the trial. However, the court may be mindful that the accused may not have been remorseful as he/she had expressed his/her intention to contest the matter.

Should You Get a Lawyer?

Legal advice can be beneficial to the accused during plead guilty mention as a lawyer(s) can assist the accused in highlighting the relevant mitigating factor in his/her plead guilty mention to lower the possible “punishment” against the accused. A lawyer may also assist in preparing the mitigation plea for the accused and in highlighting and presenting to the court the mitigating factor during the plead guilty mention.

The lawyer may also suggest to write a letter of representation or to attend a Criminal Case Management System (CCMS) meeting to attempt to lower the current charge(s) and/or withdraw the charge(s) entirely. It may be beneficial for the accused to seek legal advice as soon as possible to gain the full benefit of the legal advice before proceeding with his/her matter. 

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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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