If you are accused of a crime, you may wish to forego a trial and plead guilty. This means you are accepting responsibility for some offence under the Criminal Code. Usually this means that a conviction will be entered and you will have a criminal record going forward. You will often be asked a few questions to satisfy the court that you are not pleading guilty for the wrong reasons:
- Are you are pleading guilty because you actually are guilty?
- Is anyone forcing you to plead guilty, or are you doing it of your own free will?
- Do you understand that by pleading guilty, you are waiving a right to a trial?
- Do you understand that, at the end of the day, it’s the judge – and only the judge – who decides what your sentence will be?
After the court is satisfied with the answers you give, the Crown attorney and your lawyer will talk to the judge about what the right sentence should be. Sentences can range from an absolute discharge to significant periods of custody. Just like a trial, there are many questions you may wish to have answered before you plead guilty:
- Why am I pleading guilty?
- If I didn’t plead guilty, can the Crown attorney still prove the charge against me?
- What should the judge know about me and my circumstances that lead me to arrive before the court?
- What are the typical sentencing ranges for the circumstances behind the charge?
- What will the Crown attorney be asking for in terms of sentence?
- Should I “join” the Crown in sentence or should I suggest a different sentence to the judge?
- What are the other effects of me pleading guilty? Will I face an MPI driving ban or a weapons ban? Will I face any employment difficulties as a result of having a criminal record? Will I be put on some sort of registry?
You may wish to speak to a lawyer before you decide to plead guilty. Often a conviction can have long-term effects and you should know what your rights are before entering a guilty plea. If you’d like to contact Scott Wilson to speak about your options, please phone (204) 415-5544 ext 7.