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Do not plead guilty until you fully understand the police version of events and have received legal advice.
If you plead guilty, the court will hear a summary of the police evidence only.
You, or the duty lawyer acting for you, will be able to tell the magistrate about your personal circumstances.
The magistrate will then decide what penalty you will get.
If you have been charged with drug offences and you are willing to plead guilty, you may be able to complete a diversion program as an alternative to another penalty.
Take these steps to plead guilty after the police have charged you with an offence:
Before pleading guilty you should:
The police officer writes down their version of your alleged offence in a document called a QP9. It is important you understand exactly what you are being charged with and the police's version of events.
By pleading guilty, you are agreeing to the police's version of events.
To get a copy of the QP9 you can:
If you disagree with any of the police details about your offence, you must tell the duty lawyer or the police prosecutor.
You need to get legal advice about how to prepare for court and your likely penalty, even if you will represent yourself on the day.
Think about what you want to say in court. Write it down and take your notes to court — see the information the court may want to hear in the sample information for the court(PDF, 86KB). If you prefer, the duty lawyer may be able to speak for you (unless you are appearing on minor traffic offences).
If drug or alcohol problems were one of the reasons you offended, it is a good idea to arrange counselling.
Counselling helps you with your drug or alcohol problems and shows the magistrate you are serious about not reoffending.
You should start counselling before you plead guilty or tell the court you are prepared to go to counselling.
If you have started counselling, take a letter from your counsellor or social worker that explains the counselling you are receiving. Or, if they can, ask your counsellor to come to court so the magistrate can ask them questions.
It is a good idea to try and visit the court before you have to appear before the magistrate to see what happens and learn how the process works. This will help you to feel more confident when your court date arrives.
Your name is called. You stand at the bar table in front of the magistrate so you are facing the magistrate (beside the duty lawyer if the duty lawyer is appearing for you).
The magistrate reads the charge and asks if you are pleading guilty or not guilty.
You, or the duty lawyer, tell the magistrate you are pleading guilty.
The police prosecutor reads the police version of events.
The police will tell the magistrate if you have any previous criminal convictions or a traffic history. You are entitled to see these if you want.
If you have a criminal record or traffic history and there is something you do not agree with, tell the duty lawyer or the magistrate.
The magistrate will ask you if you have anything to say about the police version of events and if you think they are correct.
If there is something you do not agree with that might affect the penalty, you should tell the magistrate or get the duty lawyer to tell the magistrate.
Remember, if you are pleading guilty to the charge and you say something that suggests you don't believe you are guilty, the magistrate will not accept your guilty plea.
Tell the magistrate anything that may explain how or why you came to commit the offence.
Remember, the magistrate does not want to hear excuses or things that are clearly untrue.
You need to:
The magistrate listens to what you or the duty lawyer has to say and decides on the penalty. Your penalty is based on your offence, your prior convictions and your plea — see a list of some possible penalties.
You or the duty lawyer can ask for no conviction to be recorded if it is appropriate. The magistrate will usually only decide not to record your conviction if you have no previous criminal history and if a conviction would affect your work or study.