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Guilty Plea? What you need to know.

guilty plea ontario criminal court


A Guilty plea is common way for charges to be disposed of quickly, generally with a reduction in risk of receiving a maximum penalty in exchange for admitting guilt early on in a proceeding.

  • a guilty plea is when an individual voluntarily admits guilt to the offence they are charged with
    • in admitting guilt, the individual is also admits to all of the facts of the offence
    • in addition, the individual foregoes their right to a trial and proceeds straight to sentencing
  • a court must be satisfied that:
    • the plea is voluntary
    • the plea is an admission of the essential elements of the offence
    • the accused understands that the court is not bound by any agreement the accused and prosecutor make (the court is allowed to rule differently than whatever deal the accused and prosecutor agree on)

Why Plead Guilty?

  • pleading guilty is a choice
  • saves time for the accused – don’t have to wait in jail or out on bail for the case to go to trial
  • saves money for the accused – less time in the court system means smaller lawyer fees
    • but also, this is less financially disruptive, as the accused needs to take less time off work to deal with court-related matters
  • saves time for the court – the court doesn’t have to go through the numerous procedures that must occur before a trial
  • the Crown may look favourably upon an admission of guilt and reduce charges or fine
    • this is because the accused is showing remorse and saving the court’s time and money

When Not to Plead Guilty

  • an individual should not plead guilty if they do not want to plead guilty
  • an individual should not plead guilty if they believe they are not guilty of the allegations
  • an individual should not plead guilty if they dispute some or all of the facts made in the allegations
  • an individual should not plead guilty unless they are acting of their own volition, and have the capacity to understand the positive and negative aspects of such a plea

The Process of a Guilty Plea

  1. The Crown will read in the allegations against the accused. The accused can agree or disagree, but a guilty plea assumes the accused will admit the facts
  2. The accused will be given the opportunity to confirm their criminal record to ensure accuracy of the document
  3. The Crown and the accused’s counsel will each submit their position before the judge. The accused’s counsel can submit mitigating details about the accused, or there can be a joint submission, where the accused’s counsel submits the same information as the Crown.
  • Submissions will include statements regarding appropriate penalties for the accused

The judge will deliver a sentence. This can be done immediately, or on a future date.

Hiring a Private Lawyer for Your Guilty Plea

  • a private lawyer can get to know you and your case better
  • a private lawyer has more time to dedicate to researching important aspects of your case
  • you can’t choose which duty counsel you get, but you can select your lawyer
  • a private lawyer does not have to prioritize clients in the same manner duty counsel does, allowing more more efficiency




Smordin Law Criminal Lawyers
41 King William St. #200
Hamilton, ON
L8R 1A2
Tel: 1 (905) 525-0005
Toll Free: 1 (844) 525-0005
Fax: 1 (905) 525-5716

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