As we all know, lawyers are expensive. Some people may decide to go to court and represent themselves.
It is always best to get some legal advice especially if it is a criminal case and you have decided to plead guilty.
Most major cities have community legal centres which provide free advice. Many Magistrates Courts have a duty solicitor who may be able to assist you.
In a criminal case, before you decide to plead guilty, you should get a copy of the brief of evidence from the prosecution. This will set out the prosecution’s case against you. This will help you to decide whether to plead guilty or not guilty.
If you have decided to plead guilty, when you go to court the Magistrate will ask you what you intend to plead-guilty or not guilty. The prosecutor will then read out a summary of the facts. In order for you to plead guilty, you must agree with these facts.
The prosecutor will hand up a list of your prior convictions (if relevant) to the Magistrate. You will then be asked to provide some background material.
You will need to address the following:
• The background to the offence ie explain what was going on at the time. Was there anything that influenced you to do what you did?
• Your age and family circumstances
• Your occupation
• Your financial circumstances
• Any relevant medical circumstances
• Any references from your employer, teacher, long-time friend etc
• What you have done since the offence to stay out of trouble?
If the Magistrate thinks you should be getting legal advice-especially where the offence is serious, and you could be facing a jail sentence, he/she will stand your case down.
Please note that this is not intended to be legal advice.