Often, Defendant’s in criminal proceedings are required to weigh up the prospects of entering a guilty plea in their matter.
For a defendant, entering a guilty plea, particularly early on in the proceedings can help reduce your sentence.
The Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 sets out that a judicial officer can take a plea of guilty into account when determining the severity of an accused party’s sentence.

For serious criminal matters heard in the District Court, the Criminal Case Conferencing Trial Act 2009 sets out that an accused party that enters a guilty plea before being committed for trial may receive a 25% discount on their sentence, while a party that pleads guilty after the matter has been committed for trial may receive up to a 12.5% discount on their sentence.

Clearly, the timing of the plea greatly affects the discount that may be available. A court officer may also take into account the number and severity of charges, as well as the defendant’s fitness to plead when determining whether or not to impose a lesser sentence.

It is important to note that, generally, entering a plea of guilty does not automatically entitle a party to a discounted sentence.
Further, you should not enter a guilty plea unless you have had the time to assess your matter properly. It is important to review the police ‘statement of facts’ in order to satisfy yourself that there are no inaccuracies and or errors of fact. It is advisable for any defendant to obtain proper legal advice before entering a guilty plea.

A legal practitioner can advise you of the particulars of an offence, and help you understand whether you are guilty of the charge that has been made against you. A lawyer may also advise you of any defence that is available to the charge.