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The Power of a Guilty Plea

Posted on 1 April 2019
The Power of a Guilty Plea

Remember when you were a kid, and your mom asked who ate the last slice of cake and you tried to blame your baby sister? Remember when she gave you that last chance to spill the beans, and you came clean about your wrong-doing, avoiding the loss of video game privileges as a result?

The criminal justice system can work the same way. If you're guilty of the crime you're accused of, and admit so at the beginning of the trial, then the judge may be more lenient in their sentencing, depending on the severity of your crime and apparent contrition.

While any plea should be discussed with your legal counsel, here are some common questions about the guilty plea, including "what happens after pleading guilty" and "does pleading guilty reduce your sentence."

What Happens After Pleading Guilty

When you plead guilty, the trial ends and you proceed into sentencing. It's usually best to enter your guilty plea to the court at the outset of the trial during the arraignment, but there are four questions the judge must ask you before accepting your plea, called the plea inquiry.

These questions are:

  1. Are you pleading guilty voluntarily?
  2. Do you understand that by pleading guilty, you are admitting to facts that make up a criminal offence?
  3. Do you understand the consequences of a guilty plea, including that you are giving up your right to have a trial by pleading guilty?
  4. Do you understand that the judge does not have to follow the sentence that your lawyer and/or the Crown are recommending?

If you answer yes to all these questions and the judge accepts your answers, then you may move on to sentencing.

How Long Between Guilty Plea and Sentencing?

After a guilty plea, the trial effectively ends and your sentencing may take place immediately afterwards or be sentenced for a later date. If the judge deems that you are a danger to the community, then you will be put into holding until your sentencing.

Does Pleading Guilty Reduce Your Sentence?

While a guilty plea often results in a reduced sentence, it is not necessarily a guarantee. Many factors go into a judge's decision, including the severity of your offences, the victim impact statement, and your state of contrition.

If the judge feels you have shown remorse for your actions, as evidenced by the guilty plea, then they may very well decline to give you the maximum sentence.

Additionally, the crown and your counsel can submit a joint statement, in which both sides submit an agreed-upon sentence, but this is ultimately a suggestion. The judge is allowed to sentence you to whatever they feel appropriate.



Learn more about the guilty plea and questions like "how long between guilty plea and sentencing" from Ontario's "Topp" criminal defence lawyer! Contact Daniel K. Topp today.

100 Ouellette Avenue, Suite 701,
Windsor, ON N9A 6T3

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