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Pleading Guilty in a Major Criminal Matter

First Court Appearance

Because of the serious nature of the offence, the Police are required to serve a brief of evidence upon you before you decide about pleading guilty or not guilty.

The Court will normally allow the police 4-6 weeks to serve a brief of evidence
on your solicitor or you personally.

The court will normally allow 1 or 2 further weeks for you to discuss this evidence with your solicitor and decide whether you intend to plead guilty or not guilty.

Local Court Appearances

After the brief of evidence has been served, your solicitor will discuss the evidence with you. You will then have to decide based on this advice and the evidence whether you intend to plead guilty or not guilty. If you intend to plead guilty, your solicitor will tell the court that you are pleading guilty and you will be committed for sentence to the District Court. At the same time the Magistrate will normally order that a pre sentence report be prepared for your sentence hearing.

There may be a number of mentions of your matter in the Local Court before you are committed for sentence. During this time your solicitor may discuss your case with the DPP in an attempt to reduce the seriousness of the offence that you will be sentenced for. This may mean that your case is adjourned while the DPP consider what charges will proceed.

District Court Sentence Hearing

The following procedure will take place:

Your solicitor will confirm that you are pleading guilty.

The Crown Prosecutor will tender some documents to the Judge. These may include a fact sheet, criminal record and if relevant a traffic record.

Your solicitor may call you or other witnesses to give evidence about your character or to explain an issue in your case.

Your solicitor will hand up any references at this time. The Judge will read these documents and the pre sentence report (if one has been ordered).

Your solicitor will make submissions on your behalf.

The Judge will make a decision and impose a sentence. It is unlikely that you will have to speak at any time during your sentence. If you are asked a question by the Judge, you should respond honestly to the Judge‘s questions. You can always consult with your solicitor if you do not understand how to answer the Judge‘s question. Always be polite and refer to the Judge as your honor.

Sentencing

The Judge will consider the facts and evidence presented by the Police
and the evidence and submissions made by your solicitor when deciding the appropriate penalty to be imposed. The Judge will normally require a Pre-Sentence report before imposing a sentence.

Pre-sentence Report

These reports are prepared by an officer of the Probation & Parole service.
Matters are normally adjourned for 6 weeks for a full pre sentence report.
The officer from Probation & Parole will interview you and from this interview they will prepare a report that includes your comments about why you committed the offence and your background. It is important that you co-operate fully with the officer as the officer will make recommendations as to an appropriate sentence in their report.

Penalties

The Courts in New South Wales can impose the following penalties (click on any of these penalty types to read information about that penalty):

 

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