If, after having considered all of the charges and facts against the person, the person decides to plead guilty then the matter will proceed to a sentence. Depending upon the nature of the charge the sentencing can occur in the Magistrates, District or Supreme Court.
However, simply deciding to plead guilty is not the end of the matter. Often there will be extensive negotiations between the defence and the prosecution to ensure that the person is pleading guilty to the ‘right’ set of facts, being facts that both the person and the prosecution are comfortable with and is supported by evidence. For example, a person may be charged with defrauding $100,000 but asserts that they only defrauded $50,000. In this instance, whilst they are technically pleading guilty to the offence of fraud negotiations need to first occur in order to have the factual dispute resolved.
Furthermore, careful consideration of the person’s antecedents and the collation of material such as character references, psychological/psychiatric reports and evidence of rehabilitation between the time of being charged and sentencing can often make a substantial difference to the sentence that is imposed.
In some circumstances, there are ways to divert the matter away from the criminal courts which, if successfully completed, will result in the withdrawal of charges – the most common is known as ‘justice mediation’.
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