If you have been charged by the police and have an upcoming court appearance, you will have the option to plead guilty or not guilty in court. This decision will determine whether or not you proceed to trial, so it’s important that you receive appropriate legal advice before choosing a course. When considering a plea, many people wonder: does pleading guilty reduce your sentence in Queensland?
In the justice system, pleading guilty is a mitigating factor which is considered by a judge during sentencing, meaning that there is a likelihood it will reduce your sentence.
This is outlined in Section 13 of Queensland’s Penalties and Sentences Act 1992, which states that:
(1) In imposing a sentence on an offender who has pleaded guilty to an offence, a court—
(a) must take the guilty plea into account; and
(b) may reduce the sentence that it would have imposed had the offender not pleaded guilty
In fact, a Sentencing Advisory Council report surveying thousands of court cases in Victoria found that early guilty pleas frequently result in reductions to jail time of 20-30 percent.
However, possible sentence reductions are not calculated mathematically, but are instead influenced by a variety of factors. When considering if pleading guilty will reduce your sentence, it’s important to consider the following:
A Guilty Plea is a Legal Admission of Guilt
This means that a guilty plea may result in you receiving a criminal conviction, which can affect future employment prospects. However, a guilty plea does not automatically mean that you will receive a conviction, so you should discuss with your lawyer a strategy designed to avoid a criminal conviction. This could include your lawyer explaining to the court how a criminal conviction is likely to negatively affect your future prospects.
The Timing of Your Guilty Plea
One of the reasons that courts look favourably upon guilty pleas is that they tend to be an indicator of genuine remorse. By avoiding trials, guilty pleas also save time and money for the criminal justice system, in turn freeing up court and police resources to focus on other cases.
For these reasons, if you are considering pleading guilty to reduce your sentence, it is advisable to do it earlier rather than later. The earlier your plea is registered, the more authentic your admission of wrongdoing and willingness to accept a fair punishment appears to the court.
Your Presentation in Court
How you present yourself to a magistrate or judge in court has a large impact on sentencing.
The context in which an offence was committed may weigh into sentencing decisions, and if you can demonstrate your behaviour during the offence as being out of character and related to external factors then the judge may consider a reduced sentence.
Experienced lawyers will be familiar with the various judges who may be presiding over your case, and able to assist you in presenting a theme which will suit the judge’s sensibilities.
Arranging character references are also important, as they can give the court an impression of your character and likelihood of reoffending.
Considering Pleading Guilty To Reduce Your Sentence?
If you are considering pleading guilty in the hopes that it will reduce your sentence, there are many things to consider, so it’s vital that you seek proper legal advice as soon as possible. Our experienced lawyers can assess your circumstances and determine an appropriate approach. Contact us today via email or by calling (07) 3211 3007 to discuss your matter.