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Representing Yourself – Guilty plea in a Minor Criminal Matter

The following procedure will take place:

  1. The Magistrate will confirm that you are pleading guilty.
  2. The prosecutor will tender some documents to the magistrate. These may include a facts sheet, criminal record and if relevant, a traffic record.
  3. If you have references, you should say to the Magistrate “I would like to hand up some references”.
  4. Sit down and wait for the Magistrate to read the material handed up. The Magistrate will ask you if you have anything to say. It is at this time you tell the court what you would like to say.
  5. It is important that you do not speak while the Magistrate is sentencing you, unless you are specifically asked to. If you do not like the penalty imposed you should not argue with the Magistrate, but speak with the court staff about an appeal.

What Should I say?

  1. You should be truthful to the court and provide them with the reasons why you committed the offence. Remember Magistrates are normally very experienced and will normally see through excuses that do not make any sense.
  2. Plan what you intend to say and if you need to, write down all the relevant points. Appearing in court is often stressful, so referring to notes may assist you if you forget what to say.
  3. You should tell the court about the following:
    * Personal details (Age, whether you are married or single)
    * Sporting or Academic achievements
    * Charitable work
    * Work details including work history
    * Why you committed the offence
  4. Knowing what not to say is almost as important as what you say. It is difficult to instruct you what not to say. But you should not exaggerate or refer to penalties that friends may have received for similar offences.

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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