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Pleading Guilty and the Courts

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 14 Nov 2019 |
 
Guilty Plea Credit Court Offence

If you are thinking about pleading guilty to an offence, you may wish to seek the advice of a solicitor first. It could be that you should be pleading guilty to a lesser offence, or that you need to have the likely implications (i.e. the sentence) spelled out to you first. A solicitor may also help you to put across your side of the story, which could also have an impact on the likely punishment that the court gives you.

Credit For Guilty Pleas

In most cases, if you plead guilty to an offence you will get a lesser sentence than if you are found guilty after a trial. Depending on the stage that your case has reached when you enter your guilty plea, you can get a discount of up to one third off your sentence. This applies to fines, community orders and sentences of imprisonment.

Newton Hearings

In some cases, if the facts of the prosecution case differ substantially from your version of events the judge may order a ‘Newton’ hearing. This is in effect a trial that determines the facts even though you have pleaded guilty on a limited basis. For example, if you agree that you committed section 20 GBH (wounding) but not that you did it with intent (which is section 18 GBH) then the judge may decide that you need to have a trial to determine whether or not you had the requisite intent to satisfy the elements of a section 18 offence. Most lawyers will advise against Newton hearings as it is difficult to obtain a good outcome.

Basis of Plea

You may instead be advised by your lawyer to plead guilty ‘on a basis.’ This is a document that sets out the facts that you are prepared to agree to, and is signed by you and your lawyer. If the prosecution agrees to it, then the prosecutor will also sign it. If not, you can still submit a basis of plea and give it to the judge but it will not have as much weight if the prosecution refuses to sign it.

Convictions

Once you plead guilty, you are ‘convicted.’ This means that you may be put on ‘judge’s remand’ pending your sentencing hearing. This is different to being on normal ‘remand’. A remand prisoner is an un-convicted prisoner. A prisoner on judge’s remand has pleaded guilty but has not been sentenced yet.

Types of Sentences

There are lots of different types of sentences that the court can give you, from an ‘absolute discharge’ which means no punishment at all, to a life sentence. There are also conditional discharges, fines, community orders, curfews, intermittent custody and imprisonment, to name a few. You may also be ‘bound over’ to keep the peace, or if you admit guilt in the police station you could be given a caution, which will stay on your criminal record but will mean that you do not need to go to court.

If you are in any doubt about whether you should plead guilty or not, you should seek legal advice. You may be entitled to legal aid to pay for your representation, but this will depend on your financial circumstances. Again, a solicitor is the best person to advise you on this.

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Hi I was his last year and lost teeth the lad was in court this week I have not heard what happened but he is tell people he got 12 months probation no fine or anything he pleaded guilty to gbh can this be right
Harry - 14-Nov-19 @ 8:12 PM
Hello I am in court tomorrow for gbh without intent first time in trouble for anything it was a couple of punches I've pleaded guilty what will be my sentence do you think ? Thank you
Joelh - 11-Nov-19 @ 8:57 PM
My partner put on remand and has court 28th he gone guilty but not guilty to a weapon he first offence what are his chances
Hayz - 13-Oct-19 @ 4:01 PM
Hi there, my son went to court on conviction of GBH without intent at magistrates today but they have put him on probation and sent it to crown court, he hasprobation appointment later this month and then the hearing. He pleaded guilty, it was one punch, he has never beenin any sort of trouble before, he is nearly 21, will it definately be a jail sentence or is there a chance he could get a communtiy order Thank you
worried mum - 3-Oct-19 @ 4:18 PM
If someone accuses you of breaching a sentence order, do you have the right to contest it and have a trial? I was wrongly accused of breaching my community order by my probation officer. My solicitor wrote to the court explaining that he was unable to provide representation that day but I would be pleading not guilty. I was not asked to enter a plea, but I explicitly stated 'I'm not guilty, your honour'. The judge told me to come back in two weeks but did not organise a trial, and so my solicitor did not submit the evidence of my innocence to the court. At the court the judge made a point that he was not interested in anything I had to say in my defence and ordered me to pay a fine and do community service. My solicitor then wrote to the judge explaining that I had entered a not guilty plea and questioning the legal validity the judge emailed back saying 'I thought I had made it clear to him that I thought he was guilty' but that I 'could have a trial if [I] want'. I then went separate ways from my solicitor as I was unsatisfied with their service. I wrote to the court to complain about the judge, and asking the legal basis for the punishment given there had been no trial, and requesting a trial, and after several weeks they have responded ignoring the fact I wanted to make a formal complaint and simply saying I attended court because I was accused of the breach and the punishment was for the breach, the implication being that as it was a breach there was legal right to enter a plea or have a trial. This is at odds with what my solicitor told me and my understanding of the UK legal system. Can you advice whether I should have been allowed to enter a plea and have a trial? Or are you automatically guilty if accused of a breach with no right to contest the breach, as the court are saying?
DB - 13-Feb-19 @ 8:34 PM
If someone accuses you of breaching a sentence order, do you have the right to contest it and have a trial? I was wrongly accused of breaching my community order by my probation officer. My solicitor wrote to the court explaining that he was unable to provide representation that day but I would be pleading not guilty. I was not asked to enter a plea, but I explicitly stated 'I'm not guilty, your honour'. The judge told me to come back in two weeks but did not organise a trial, and so my solicitor did not submit the evidence of my innocence to the court. At the court the judge made a point that he was not interested in anything I had to say in my defence and ordered me to pay a fine and do community service. My solicitor then wrote to the judge explaining that I had entered a not guilty plea and questioning the legal validity the judge emailed back saying 'I thought I had made it clear to him that I thought he was guilty' but that I 'could have a trial if [I] want'. I then went separate ways from my solicitor as I was unsatisfied with their service. I wrote to the court to complain about the judge, and asking the legal basis for the punishment given there had been no trial, and requesting a trial, and after several weeks they have responded ignoring the fact I wanted to make a formal complaint and simply saying I attended court because I was accused of the breach and the punishment was for the breach, the implication being that as it was a breach there was legal right to enter a plea or have a trial. This is at odds with what my solicitor told me and my understanding of the UK legal system. Can you advice whether I should have been allowed to enter a plea and have a trial? Or are you automatically guilty if accused of a breach with no right to contest the breach, as the court are saying?
DB - 13-Feb-19 @ 8:26 PM
I was advised to plead guilty by my solicitor even though I told him that I could prove my innocence, my ex partner lied through her teeth and I could prove it and have witnesses, yet he told me to go guilty and I was walking away, yet I was remanded and sentenced to16 weeks suspended for 2 years, can I appeal and provide my evidence and call witnesses
Derek - 16-Oct-18 @ 11:45 PM
I am on police bail and i have a newborn baby and have court on the 18th but when the police came out my partner was down here because we sorted things out the next day and i was done for 2 domestic assults could the bail get dropped because i have really bad mental health etc
Mk - 8-Oct-18 @ 6:35 PM
Harris - Your Question:
Hi My breath reading was 58. I just want to ask you this is the second time I have been charged for drinking driving also I have a provisional driving license thats why I asked you will I get community service.Tha6

Our Response:
We cannot anticipate what a court will decide, as much will depend upon the surrounding circumstances. We can only point you in the general direction. You would need to speak to a legal professional dealing exclusively in drink driving related cases regarding this.
CourtroomAdvice - 19-Jun-18 @ 3:51 PM
Hi My breath reading was 58. I just want to ask you this is the second time i have been charged for drinking driving also i have a provisional driving license thats why i asked you will i get community service. Tha6
Harris - 19-Jun-18 @ 3:40 PM
Hi Thanks for the reply i have calculate the penalty i just want to ask you can i go to prison for 3 months because of drinking Can you please reply. Thanks
Harris - 19-Jun-18 @ 2:28 AM
Harris - Your Question:
HiI have professional driving license and I have been caught drinking driving with kids in the van without seat belt and insurance. This is ths second time I have been charged can you please tell me what will the court charge me because this is the second time.Thanks

Our Response:
The drink driving penalty calculator here will give you a reliable estimate as to what sentence you can expect to receive upon conviction of driving or attempting to drive a motor vehicle while under the influence of drink. Obviously, there are also variables dependent upon the circumstances.
CourtroomAdvice - 18-Jun-18 @ 10:01 AM
Hi I have professional driving license and I have been caught drinking driving with kids in the van without seat belt and insurance. This is ths second time i have been charged can you please tell me what will the court charge me because this is the second time. Thanks
Harris - 17-Jun-18 @ 2:05 AM
Jez - Your Question:
Hi, my and my girlfriend had a drunk argument which lead to here pushing/hitting me and I had a scratch. Police came and calmed us down. I was made to believe she was going to taken to sober up and released. But now shes been bailed ti go court for common assualt! This is so over the top! A 3rd party witnesssed gave a statement saying she pushed me. I had marks on my neck because I had a previous scuffle with a friend but they using that as evidence. My gf is realy scared and we aint allowed to contact eachother. If she get a criminal record shes going to lose her job. If they witness withdraws his statement what will happen. We just want this to be over with! Please can someone help us. I love my gf and this is been blown out of proportion.

Our Response:
Much depends upon whether to CPS decide they have enough evidence to take the matter to court, regardless of whether anyone withdraws their statement.
CourtroomAdvice - 4-Jun-18 @ 3:05 PM
Hi, my and my girlfriend had a drunk argument which lead to here pushing/hitting me and i had a scratch. Police came and calmed us down. I was made to believe she was going to taken to sober up and released. But now shes been bailed ti go court for common assualt! This is so over the top! A 3rd party witnesssed gave a statement saying she pushed me. I had marks on my neck because i had a previous scuffle with a friend but they using that as evidence. My gf is realy scared and we aint allowed to contact eachother. If she get a criminal record shes going to lose her job. If they witness withdraws his statement what will happen. We just want this to be over with! Please can someone help us. I love my gf and this is been blown out of proportion.
Jez - 4-Jun-18 @ 1:24 AM
May I need to get bail before appearing in the court. Police charged me section 39. My wife complained to police they kept me in their custody for few hours and conditionally released me not to contact wife and not to go home and bind me appear before court... what will happen next I have no idea..
SA - 8-May-18 @ 3:29 PM
I have been charged with assault of a police officer following a domestic argument. I tried to run upstairs to talk to my partner and was put on the floor and pepper sprayed. I believe i kicked with my legs at the shock and pain of being sprayed and maybe caught the officers feet with mine. All charges were dropped the next day and i went home. 3 weeks later i received a postal requisition and i have to appear in court for something that was dropped. What will happen if i plead guilty, can i explain how it happened?
Striped121 - 30-Apr-18 @ 7:57 AM
Hi My brother has been charged possession of knife which is 5”blade named as locking knife, given to him as gift by his friends for go on trekking. On night he had his in trouser while the police officer search him. He ready plea guilt because he doesn’t knew that rule because he is only been into the country for less than 10days. He came to UK jan 29th and charged on feb10th. Please guide me what to do on the hearing and how to plea guilty to avoid any sentences that could cause his stay in this country while studying. Thanks
Vj - 20-Apr-18 @ 7:51 PM
What is the meaning of pleaded not guilty to the offence.The case has been adjourned to br sentench.
imamraza - 3-Mar-18 @ 1:45 PM
I've never been in any trouble before , I was arrested and charged with an offence -it has only come to light now that I could / should have been given a reprimand but this was never offend to me at the time. I've now been to court and got to back. for a second timedue to lots of facts being different from the CPS case- and the dates of the charges have now changed 3 times & the defendant's story has also on changed on several parts. Where do I stand ? is there anything I can do.Because it's likely to cost me my job, which will then effect where my kids live with their mum as I pay the total cost of the house and I no longer live with them and have to pay to rent a room
all at sea - 13-Jan-18 @ 11:06 PM
Tom - Your Question:
My wife attacked me and I retaliated and have been charged with gbh and it is going to crown court will I go to prison for this

Our Response:
It is impossible to anticipate as all will depend upon the charges. For instance, Section 18 GBH assault is the more serious charge if it can be proved the defendant had full intention to cause serious bodily harm. This can only be tried in a Crown Court. Sections 18 and 20 carry different maximum sentences - your solicitor would be able to advise more regarding this.
CourtroomAdvice - 11-Jan-18 @ 3:28 PM
My wife attacked me and I retaliated and have been chargedwith gbh and it is going to crown court will i go to prisonfor this
Tom - 10-Jan-18 @ 10:46 PM
H - Your Question:
My partner assaulted me and was arrested after a prolonged attack. he pleaded guilty at the magistrates court. and is waiting sentencing. do you think he could go to prison or hopefully suspended sentence

Our Response:
We cannot determine what a court may decide. You can see more via the Sentencing Council definitive guidelines link here .
CourtroomAdvice - 8-Jan-18 @ 3:54 PM
My partner assaulted me and was arrested after a prolonged attack .. he pleaded guilty at the magistrates court.. and is waiting sentencing.. do you think he could go to prison or hopefully suspended sentence
H - 8-Jan-18 @ 1:31 AM
Hi My partner has been done for fraud working under fake ID and also deception under the immigration act. Now the judge has said there is loads of evident that she is guilty and he is willing to give 25% off her sentencing, what jail term is someone likely to face in this situations?
Fast carz - 6-Jan-18 @ 3:24 PM
A man tried to steal my sons bike off him.In the struggle the man jumped over the bike onto the bike tool my son was holding a one inch long tool on a multifunctional. The male received a puncture wound to the chest and reported it.My son took bike and rode off scared. Son is adult male.Now being charged with sect 18 wounding.Been advised to plead guilty to sec20 wounding.He has done this but worried as he was victim of robbery where his assailant was accidentally wounded.No witnesses.
Sue - 31-Dec-17 @ 11:24 AM
Got arrested yesterday over section 39what’s all happening my first court HearingAnd 1st I am not Guiltycan anyone please help me I am a 21 years old I amvulnerableadults with mental health problems
Jonesy - 29-Dec-17 @ 2:18 PM
Han - Your Question:
My partner was sentanced to 3 years. Do 18 months, how long does he have to do until he can have tag?

Our Response:
You can see more via the Offenders' Families helpline via the link here which will explain more.
CourtroomAdvice - 5-Sep-17 @ 3:14 PM
My partner was sentanced to 3 years. Do 18 months, how long does he have to do until he can have tag?
Han - 1-Sep-17 @ 6:40 PM
My son threw a glass and accidentally hit a guy on forehead he doesn't remember doing so but he has admitted to police because he is terrified their is no evidence on CCTV or from anyone in bar or bar staff only the person that got hurt and his girl friend.what charges is he facing?
Maglinchy - 8-Jul-17 @ 5:19 PM
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