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Pleading Guilty in a Minor Criminal Matter

First Court Appearance

In most Local Courts in New South Wales, traffic matters are first mentioned before a registrar. At this time you will be asked whether you want to plead guilty or not guilty. You should consider this question carefully as the court will normally discount any sentence if you plead guilty.

If you are represented by a solicitor generally you will not have to say or do anything.  The following procedure will take place:

Your solicitor will confirm that you are pleading guilty.

When your matter is mentioned your solicitor will get you to stand up so the Magistrate can see who they are sentencing.

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

Your solicitor will hand up any references at this time. Your solicitor will make submissions after the Magistrate has read what the prosecutor and your solicitor have handed to the court.

Your solicitor will stop talking and the Magistrate will start talking.  You should stand up when the Magistrate is speaking to you.

The Magistrate will usually 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 Magistrate, you should respond honestly to the Magistrate‘s questions. You can always consult with your solicitor if you do not understand how to answer the Magistrate‘s question. Always be polite and refer to the Magistrate as your honor.

If you are unhappy with the decision do not argue with the Magistrate or pass comment. Speak with your solicitor outside the court room about your rights to appeal.

Sentencing

The Magistrate will consider the facts presented by the Police and the submissions made by you or your solicitor when deciding the appropriate penalty to be imposed. The Magistrate may decide to deal with your matter immediately or may want to adjourn your matter for a Pre-Sentence report or to refer you to a traffic offender program.

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 or for a few hours for an oral 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:

 

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