Should I Plead Guilty?

guilty-plea

By: Adam Weisberg, Lead Counsel, Weisberg Law

Pleading guilty is a serious decision.Those accused of a crime sometimes believe that they are guilty when they are not actually legally guilty. Pleading guilty should not be done without careful consideration and advice.

Did I really do the crime?

People sometimes believe they committed a crime when they did not.This mistaken belief occurs because people may feel morally guilty for their actions that are not actually criminal.Criminal charges contain required elements built into the definition of each offence.A legal professional is often necessary to determine whether a person's actions fit the legally required elements of the specific crime. If you plead guilty to an offence, you are admitting in court that all the key elements of the charge are true and happened.

Were my actions legally justified?

This question can be complicated. People who are charged sometimes feel bad about something they have done, and want to take responsibility for their actions. They may not realize, however, that they have a legal justification or excuse based on the circumstances that could amount to a not guilty verdict. A criminal lawyer will be able to help you assess and consider the advantages and disadvantages of pleading guilty.

What is the evidence against me?

It is always important to carefully review the potential evidence to determine the prospects for defending a case. Any person accused of a crime is legally presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. If you plead not guilty and have a trial, the prosecutor has to prove the crime beyond a reasonable doubt. Pleading guilty relieves the prosecutor from the duty of proving your guilt at trial.

If you plead guilty it is also very difficult to appeal or change that decision.The only issue that can be appealed on a guilty plea is often only the sentence imposed by the judge.

Do I have a defence based on violation of my rights?

Reviewing the disclosure is also important for assessing whether there have been violations of your rights in the course of the investigation. In some cases, violations of your rights can lead to an acquittal.The police may have illegally searched your residence or improperly questioned you at the station.The police and Crown can make mistakes.A criminal lawyer can help you assess your defences prior to you making a decision to plead guilty.

What are the advantages to pleading guilty?

The outcome of a trial cannot be predicted with certainty. Pleading guilty is often a way to obtain a more certain result.A deal may be made between the prosecutor and your lawyer to a certain penalty or sentence. The prosecutor may also withdraw a more serious charge in exchange for a guilty plea to a less serious offence. These issues can only be properly negotiated after assessing the legal strengths and weaknesses of the case.

In Canada, a judge will have the final say on the sentence of any person that is found guilty in their court.It is rare, however, for judges to interfere with positions put forward by both the defence lawyer and prosecutor as an agreement.

Do I understand the consequences?

The consequences of a guilty plea can be serious and complex. There are an array of penalties, orders, and conditions that may result from a finding of guilt. There may also be an impact on employment, travel, immigration, or other matters. A guilty plea can also affect what happens if you are involved in a lawsuit related to the offence. These factors are why hiring a criminal lawyer and getting advice is so important before deciding to plead guilty.

People should only plead guilty if they are guilty of the charge.You cannot plead guilty to an offence you did not commit.A guilty plea can only happen if it is the accused person's choice.That choice must be voluntary and made without undue pressure or influence.

Have You Consulted With a Defence Lawyer?

It is important that you sit down with a defence lawyer to discuss your case before making a decision as permanent as a guilty plea.Your lawyer will be able to advise you of all potential outcomes and risks associated with either pleading guilty or taking the proceedings to trial. A discussion with a knowledgeable legal professional that reviews and investigates your case is absolutely necessary in almost all circumstances involving criminal charges.

Only plead guilty after careful consideration, and not before consulting with a defence lawyer, so that you can make an informed decision about whether it is the best course of action for you. 

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Monday, 18 June 2018
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