If you have been accused of a criminal offence, one of the options you have is to plead guilty. But before you do, it’s important to seek legal advice to ensure you receive the best outcome for your circumstances. Your penalty may impact your current and future employment, family and friends.
Your lawyer will review your matter to explore every angle and ensure that you plead guilty to the correct charge and upon the correct factual basis. This includes making sure that you admit to the wrongdoing you committed, not necessarily the crime you have been charged with.
South Australia has recently changed its sentencing process with the introduction of the Sentencing Act 2017 (“The Act”). The Act states that the primary purpose of sentencing is to protect the safety of the community, with secondary purposes including ensuring the defendant is punished for the offending behaviour and promoting the defendant’s rehabilitation.
By pleading guilty within four weeks of your first Court appearance you may be eligible to receive a sentence reduction of up to 40% at the Judge or Magistrate’s discretion. By this stage you should be in possession of the initial documents from the Prosecution, however your decision to plead guilty can be uninformed. Your lawyer will look at all circumstances in the matter and advise if the 40% discount should be requested or if further disclosure from the prosecution should be gathered before pleading guilty.
During sentencing, the Court will hear from Prosecution and yourself/your lawyer who will touch on the purposes of the Act and the relevant sentencing factors. This includes your personal circumstances, character and likelihood that you will reoffend. For example, the existence of any mental health issues or substance abuse may sway the Court towards focusing on your rehabilitation rather than punishment.
New sentencing options included in the Act include community-based orders and intensive correction orders derived from legislation currently in place in the Eastern states of Australia. These provide alternative sentencing options to imprisonment where the Court considers there a genuine risk the defendant will re-offend if they are not participating in a suitable intervention program for rehabilitation purposes.
Matthew Rismondo our Whyalla lawyer, and the other lawyers at Hume Taylor & Co, can provide guidance through the Court process to ensure you get the fairest outcome in your circumstances. Call us on 8645 7666 to make an appointment today.