Pleading guilty means that you admit fully and unconditionally to the offences committed. You are required to attend a plead guilty (PG) mention after you have indicated that you wish to plead guilty at Mentions Court.
You may apply to change your PG mention dates in writing or via the Integrated Case Management System (ICMS) (for State Courts cases) if you have valid reasons for being unable to attend court on the stipulated dates.
You should prepare your mitigation plea before your PG mention. A mitigation plea is an oral or written statement containing information about you or the circumstances of the crime that may result in a lower sentence.
The purpose of your mitigation plea is for you to convey relevant mitigating factors to the judge so that leniency may be exercised in your sentence. These are reasons, facts or events that seek to persuade the judge why your punishment should be lessened.
Find out what to include in, and how to submit your mitigation plea.
You will be asked to present your mitigation plea during sentencing. Sentencing is the stage in the criminal process where the judge decides on your punishment after you have been convicted.
Sentencing can be on the same day as conviction. Alternatively, the court can convict you first, and then adjourn sentencing to a later date.
Your PG mention begins with the court interpreter reading out the charges against you. If you had indicated that you wish to plead guilty at Mentions Court, you will be asked to confirm whether you still wish to plead guilty, or to claim trial.
If your offence is punishable by death, a guilty plea cannot be taken at Mentions Court. The prosecution has to give evidence and prove their case in a criminal trial before the court can accept your plea of guilt for offences punishable by death.
If you decide to proceed with your guilty plea, the statement of facts (SOF) will be read out to you. The SOF contains the relevant facts of your offence. Listen carefully to the SOF. After it has been read to you, you will be asked whether you agree with all the facts.
If you disagree with any fact in the SOF, you must inform the court and the prosecution which part of the SOF you disagree with. The court may then stand down the case to allow you and the prosecution to resolve the disagreement.
The court will only proceed to convict and sentence you if you fully agree to the SOF. If you cannot agree with the prosecution on any part of the SOF that contains essential elements of the offence, the court will reject your guilty plea.
This means your case will proceed to trial instead.
If you agree to the SOF, the judge will proceed to convict you if satisfied with the admitted facts, and that all the elements of the offence have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.