Are you in need of a criminal lawyer in Melbourne?
Being accused of a crime in a court of law is a serious matter that needs the aid of legal professionals. You shouldn’t dive into defending yourself before speaking to a lawyer and seeking out the logistics first.
The main thing to discuss with your lawyer is what you will plead in court. All the other aspects you speak about may directly relate to this decision.
Please note: the following information is general in nature, and does not constitute legal advice. Each case is unique, so please speak to your criminal lawyer for individual legal counsel.
Is it better to plead guilty or not guilty?
If your criminal lawyer in the Melbourne CBD thinks there is a lot of evidence stacked against you, then they may advise you to plead guilty.
On the other hand, if there is little evidence against you or little evidence supporting the person accusing you, then your lawyer may encourage you to plead not guilty.
Other factors to consider when thinking about what to plea in a court case are:
- The evidence the accuser has
- What evidence you have that support a not guilty plea
- Any evidence that could emerge during your trial
- What is the penalty of the crime
- The nature of the crime being committed
- The police evidence versus personal evidence such as an eyewitness
- If you have been accused of a similar crime before / your history
Maybe you are innocent, guilty, or you think you have been completely misunderstood, and just want to know what your chances are with whatever you plead.
But whatever your status, you need to talk it out with a lawyer, even if you think your chances of winning are low.
What are the different ways to plead in court?
Globally, and in most cases, an accused will plead either guilty or not guilty.
This is usually the easiest way to an outcome, because it is a direct answer that the jury and the magistrate can handle practically.
In some countries outside of Australia (and specifically, those outside of the Commonwealth), people being accused of a crime have the option of picking neither of these…
What is it called when you don’t plead guilty or not guilty?
A non contest, also called the plea of nolo contendere, is when an accused person pleads neither guilty nor not guilty for a crime, such as criminal theft.
In simple terms, consider a no contest as when you don’t admit to the crime but you don’t deny it, either. There are several reasons why one might plead this and also different types of a no contest such as not technically confessing so you don’t get sued.
The plea of nolo contendere is not permitted in Australia and the court may mark you as not guilty if you do try and plead this.
Do you get less jail time if you plead guilty?
There may be benefits to pleading guilty and benefits of doing it as early as possible.
Our “legal aid services in Melbourne can provide more specialised information based on your unique situation.
One personal benefit is that the trial won’t be carried out for a long period of time, saving you money and giving you more time to do other things such as carry out the penalty.
There is a likelihood of less jail time if you initially plead guilty, compared to the time you get if you plead not guilty and then are found to be guilty.
It also might reduce your penalty. For example, instead of paying a fine, you get community service instead.
Loopholes in pleading not guilty
If you now know you’ve committed a crime you may still be able to plead not guilty on the grounds of:
- Pleading not guilty by reason of mental impairment
- Pleading not guilty by reason that you did not know you were committing a crime
- You are a minor
- You have an intellectual disability
Other ways to get treated fairly by the court
- When the magistrate speaks to you, stand up
- Refer to the magistrate as “Your honour”
- Never interrupt anyone, especially not the magistrate
- Speak clearly, concisely, politely, and loudly
- Make as much eye contact with the magistrate as possible when they are speaking to you or when you are speaking to them
What happens after you plead not guilty?
If you initially plead not guilty, the judge may adjourn your case for a hearing another day.
You will then have a contested hearing in which they may come to a decision. If you do not agree with the decision you can appeal to the County Court and have 28 days to do this.
Can I contact your criminal defence lawyers for advice?
James Dowsley & Associates is one of Melbourne’s largest and most trusted criminal law firms.
We have four different offices and are available to speak with for urgent legal advice when you need it most.
- Melbourne CBD – (03) 8602 1400
- Frankston – (03) 9781 4900
- Moorabbin – (03) 9555 4442
- Dandenong – (03) 8788 5600
Alternatively, you can fill in this form to make contact.