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Pleading Guilty and the Courts

By: Lorna Elliott LLB (hons), Barrister - Updated: 21 Jul 2020 |
 
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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My daughter was stopped driving someone else's car and subsequently charged with driving with no insurance.Her insurance does allow her to drive other people's cars with their permission.This morning whilst at court, waiting for an email from the insurance company confirming this, she was called in.The duty solicitor told her that as the email hadn't yet come through she would have to plead guilty, which she did.We now find that having pleaded guilty she has no right of appeal.Is there anything that can be done?This is surely at the very least, negligence on the part of the solicitor?It doesn't seem right that you can be convicted of an offence, even if you plead guilty, when there was no offence.
UnderPressure - 21-Jul-20 @ 11:58 AM
So, after refusung to sign a CRO over putting my hand over a mobile phone to stop someone filming me ( and shouting abuse at me)..im the one with a common assault charge hanging over me. Police said technially cos i put my hand over the phone its assault and he wants to press charges-despite the fact there was no injury, no shouting or abuse from me. Policeman said he didnt like my attitude and i should have jsut signed CRO. talk about coersed! Never so much a parking ticket in my life...im going to plead not guilty as i was genuinely feeling threatened....but i have a feeling im going to be found guilty on a technicality...should i just pay the fine and be done but thats not justice surely
freddy - 18-Jul-20 @ 8:04 PM
My ex wife's dad assaulted my oldest son, I went to the house to confront him and we got in to a scuffle, he ended up worse off and I got arrested for gbh with intent, I'm currently waiting trial. I've said it was self defense, as he put his hands on me first.Im obviously expecting some sort of punishment, but a custodial would be harsh. Has anyone been in this situation before?
Danny - 18-Jul-20 @ 6:52 AM
My son is being convicted of causing death by careless driving. In April of last year my nephew called him for a lift at 11:30pm. My son originally told him no but my nephew was drunk so my son went to pick him up along with his 2 friends. On the way to dropping them off, somehow my son lost control of the car and it left the road hitting a tree and killing my nephew. He said he was doing 65mph on a 60mph road so he has pleaded guilty. My son had no alcohol or drugs in his system as he doesn’t do either, he’s always been a sensible boy. He’s now 20, he was 19 when the accident happened. We go to crown court on Friday this week and I am worried sick that he could go to jail. It’s only ever been the 2 of us and I will admit he is a bit of a Mam’s boy. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you
Lizzydrip - 4-Jul-20 @ 10:15 AM
I pulled my car in stopped as I opens door a cyclist came off his bike I asked was he ok but all he was doing was complaining he hurt his left leg I was mistified as he scrambled off his bike to the right I gave him my insurance and phone number when he left hospital he reported me to police the police ring me I said not denying knocking him off his bike but he new I’d just pulled in shorely 50 50
Bill - 2-Jun-20 @ 5:44 PM
I was arrested on Feb 18th for common assault on my partner . I grabbed her round the throat . Also criminal damage and possession of a small amount of cannabis. I admitted a similar offence 6 years ago (different partner) I was given a fine community order and bbr course. I'm intending to plead guilty but have just been bailed for the now 3rd time and not as yet been given a new date to hand myself in. Any advice please?
Southsand1 - 17-Apr-20 @ 6:55 PM
Hi could you please help me urgently. We are husband an wife. Last year we had some arguments. My husband pushed my mouth and nose. I had called to the police. When the police arrived some blood came from my mouth and nose. When they asked me I said my husband pushed me that's why I am bleeding. Police arrested and released on bail.After that police enquireand record everything in their camera. They asked me to give statement against my husband. But I said I don't want to make any complaints against him but I need to go away from him. After that social service involved because I have three children. Now CPS (POLICE) filed a case against my husband to beating me. Last December first date my husband said I am not guilty. They said trail will be on March 6. So next Friday trail for my husband. I would like to support my husband. Could you please advise me what I can do to bring my husband out from the case please.Please help me. Thanks
Liam - 4-Mar-20 @ 8:35 PM
I've been arrested for stealing at work. My first offence. What's the likely outcome. Do I plead guilty or not guilty I did steal the items.
Bigal - 26-Feb-20 @ 1:55 AM
I am up for section 20. I am going not guilty I threw a scooter at my girlfriend but didn't mean to hit her. Can I get a lesser charge
Lee - 25-Feb-20 @ 10:56 AM
Hi, i have been caught on drink driving and it`s my first offence. My breath reading is 75. i did not cause any problem to the police or damage anything, am supposed to appear in court soon. whats going to be the charge and the court outcome?
JJ - 24-Feb-20 @ 10:52 AM
jonesy get to a good lawyer let him help you, i have been through the mill. just be strong and seek the best advice mike
macca - 21-Feb-20 @ 4:11 AM
To the commenter (Derek) I have the same situation pleaded guilty on advise in a so called plea bargain becous if I didn't I was going to jail nievely I took the advise as I didn't want to go to jail I had responsibilities at home my picture is all over the media and life is bad now, I should have fought with a no deal MY ADVISE NEVER PLAY WITH YOUR LIFE AND NEVER TAKE A PLEA BARGAIN
Nick - 10-Feb-20 @ 12:52 AM
Hello I was arrested for pushing my.girlfrend and.taking her house keys in an argument and.i am.being done for theft and assault by beating even tho I pushed her and I was taken to court and put on bail and they said not to contact her and I contacted her and we got into a other argument I pushed her again and threw a laptop and I am now being done for assault by beating theft and breach what am I looking at havent done a crime in eight years and first breech I dont want to goto prison
Jay - 7-Feb-20 @ 12:45 PM
I assaulted my girlfriend whilst I was blacked out due to to much alcohol. I was realised on bail the next day with bail conditions not to see her. I have previous been charged with assault 3 times over the period of 8 years due to alcohol again and been giving fines and community service. I do not want to humiliated my girlfriend anymore and I am taking responsibility for my actions by pleading guilty in court. I am seeking the help of doctors and alcoholism meetings to stay away from alcohol. I have a binge drinking problem along with an anger issue that I want to address and get help for.
Fiona - 26-Jan-20 @ 7:01 PM
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
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