Should I Plead Guilty or Not Guilty to an Allegation?

August 27, 2020, By

The way in which the courts and their sentencing works will differ depending on how you plead to the allegation against you. We explain what happens if you plead guilty, versus what happens if you plead not guilty, as well as the impact of originally pleading not guilty then being found otherwise.

It is paramount that you seek legal advice when accused of committing a crime of any level of severity. This way, you can work with your solicitor to build a defence that works towards the best possible solution for you. Read on to see what happens whether you plead guilty or not guilty.

What happens if I plead guilty to an offence?

Simply put, a guilty plea means that you accept that you committed the offence you are being tried for.

Pleading guilty in court allows sentencing to take place without the need for hearing from witnesses. The prosecution and your defence solicitor will be heard from to determine the extent of the sentencing.

Before you go to court, you will discuss with your solicitor what the best possible course of action will be and they will fight your corner to come to a sentencing that they believe is fair.

Magistrates’ Courts can sentence up to 6 months for one offence, or 12 months for multiple. They can impose suspended sentences between 6 months and two years, as well as community orders, fines and conditional discharges as well as ASBOs and disqualifications.

In some cases, a sentencing may be adjourned in order to obtain further information before making a decision. Anything beyond these capabilities will be sent to Crown Court for sentencing. Sentencing rules can be reassessed and changed over time, such as assaults on emergency workers, which can now be escalated to the Crown Court if deemed to have such severity.

What happens if I plead not guilty?

A not guilty plea means that you do not agree with the charge against you. You are saying that you didn’t commit the offence, or that you had a reasonable offence for doing so.

May we reiterate, it is of the utmost importance that you seek legal guidance at the earliest opportunity to create a robust defence with your solicitor before going to trial.

Some key considerations when building a defence are:

  • The severity of the charge against you
  • What the police need to prove
  • What might happen if you are found guilty in court

At the Magistrates’ Court, witnesses will be invited to tell their version of events, and then the court will decide if you are guilty or not.

Should your trial be escalated to the Crown Court, a jury will decide on whether they believe you to be guilty or not guilty of the alleged offence.

If you are found not guilty, you are free to go. If you are found guilty, you will be sentenced accordingly.

When found guilty after a not guilty plea, the sentence can often be worse than having pleaded guilty from the start, and so it is crucial to have a legal expert by your side throughout.

Expert Criminal Defence Solicitors

Knowing that you have the best possible defence will ensure that you are prepared for what plays out in court, to some extent. Being open and thorough when explaining your situation to your solicitor can be so helpful in terms of understanding the allegations and finding a way to defend them in court.

Even if you plan to plead guilty, you will need a solicitor to help negotiate a reasonable punishment in line with the severity of the offence.

At Slater Heelis, no matter the alleged offence, we do not make assumptions about you or your behaviour. We are on your side and will do all that we can to fight for suitable outcome.

From the moment you hear from the police, we can be with you, and guide you through the whole process. All you need to do is call, and we will see what we can do for you.

Fill in your details in our confidential contact form, or call us on 0161 969 3131 for further guidance.