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Going to Court - Minor Offence with Guilty Plea - VIRTUAL TOUR

This part of our website has been designed to inform you about the process when you go to court. It has been designed so that you may choose from a number of different tours that will take you from the first court date to sentencing and the completion of your matter. To ensure we direct you to the right tour, please indicate whether you have been charged with a minor criminal offence or a major criminal offence.

Choose the right Option for your Tour: 

            Minor                            Major

If you are unsure, you may find your further information on your charge by clicking here and clicking on the relevant charge from our list.

Minor Matter

You have indicated that you have been charged with a minor matter. To ensure we direct you to the right tour, please now indicate whether you intend to plead guilty or not guilty. 

You should consider this question carefully as the court will normally discount any sentence if you plead guilty. If you are in any doubt, whether you should plead guilty or not guilty you should seek an adjournment and obtain legal advice. 

Choose the right Option for your Tour:

            Guilty                            Not Guilty

The information contained in this page was accurate at the time it was published. You should confirm the accuracy of this information with us or another solicitor before relying upon it.

Guilty

In Queensland, traffic matters and simple offence are mentioned before a Magistrate. At this time you will be asked whether you want to plead guilty, not guilty or whether you would like to adjourn your matter to another date.

If you intend to plead guilty then you or your solicitor should have any relevant information to assist the Magistrate in passing his or her sentence available, as you will be sentenced immediately after you enter your plea. 

Please indicate whether you intend to be represented by a solicitor or not.

            Represented                  Unrepresented

The information contained in this page was accurate at the time it was published. You should confirm the accuracy of this information with us or another solicitor before relying upon it.

Represented

If you are represented by a solicitor generally you will not have to say or do anything.  The following procedure will take place:

When your matter is mentioned your solicitor will get you to stand up so the Magistrate can see who they are sentencing.

Your solicitor may suggest that you adjourn your matter to another date so that further information can be gathered, a report can be obtained or to allow time for you to attend a relevant program.  This is common practice, unless instructed otherwise by you.

On the next date your matter is mentioned, you will again be required to stand up so the Magistrate can see who they are sentencing.  Your solicitor will confirm that you are pleading guilty and you will then sit down.

The prosecutor will tender some documents to the magistrate. These may include a QP9 - Court Brief, criminal record and if relevant a traffic record.  The prosecutor will also read out a summary of the charge as per the QP9 and may make a suggestion regarding an appropriate sentence. 

Your solicitor will hand up any references and any other relevant documents at this time. Your solicitor will make submissions after the Magistrate has read what the prosecutor and your solicitor have handed to the court. 

Your solicitor will stop talking and the Magistrate will start talking.  You should stand up when the Magistrate is speaking to you.

The Magistrate will usually make a decision and impose a sentence. It is unlikely that you will have to speak at any time during your sentence. If you are asked a question by the Magistrate, you should respond honestly to the Magistrate's questions. You can always consult with your solicitor if you do not understand how to answer the Magistrate's question. Always be polite and refer to the Magistrate as your Honour.

If you are unhappy with the decision do not argue with the Magistrate or pass comment. Speak with your solicitor outside the court room about your rights to appeal.

 

The information contained in this page was accurate at the time it was published. You should confirm the accuracy of this information with us or another solicitor before relying upon it.

Sentence

The Magistrate will consider the summary presented by the prosecutor and the submissions made by your solicitor when deciding the appropriate penalty to be imposed. The Magistrate may decide to deal with your matter immediately or may want to adjourn your matter so he or she can consider the material presented to them more thoroughly.

 

The information contained in this page was accurate at the time it was published. You should confirm the accuracy of this information with us or another solicitor before relying upon it.

Penalties

For minor offences the first three types of penalties are most likely for first time offenders. It is important to note that the penalty will generally be more serious each time an offender commits a new offence, even if the offence the new offence is minor.   

Further, the Court may impose more than one of the penalties.  For example, you may get a fine as well as be ordered to complete community service.

1: Absolute Release or Good Behaviour Bond

The Court has the power to release an offender absolutely without any penalty; however this is an extremely rare order even for the most minor of offences.  It is more likely that a person facing a Magistrate with a very minor offence would be imposed with a good behaviour bond. 

This is an order of the Court that you be of good behaviour for a specified period of time. If you are of good behaviour and comply with any conditions directed for the time set by the Court there is no further penalty. However if you are not of good behaviour you may be summoned to court to be re sentenced for the offence.

If the Court orders your absolute release or a good behaviour bond, it must also order than no conviction be recorded,see below.

2: Fines and Restitution

In matters that are not serious, a fine may be imposed. The amount of the fine cannot be greater than the maximum penalty for the offence.

If your offence involved financial loss to some other person, the Court may order that you pay restitution to that person for the full amount or a partial amount of their loss.  This can be in addition to a fine.

The Court will order that you pay any fine and/or restitution within a specified time. However you can make application to the Court at that time to have your fine and/or restitution referred to the State and Penalties Enforcement Registry (SPER) where a longer payment schedule can be arranged.

3: Community Service Order

A Community Service Order (CSO) involves either unpaid work in the community at a place specified by the Corrective Services Officer or attendance at a Centre to undertake a course, such as Anger Management.  You will be required to complete at least 40 hours, but no more than 240 hours of community service within one year, the exact number of hours between these two figures is at the discretion of the Court.  

The Court may order that you complete both a community service and probation order.

4: Probation

A probation order involves being released under the supervision of a corrective services officer.  Probation can be ordered as an alternative to imprisonment or in addition to imprisonment upon release. The period of your probation will be no longer than 3 years.

If you are ordered probation, you must meet with your corrective services officer as often as the order requires and comply with the officer's reasonable directions, which may include attending groups, courses or counselling, to submit to medical, psychological and/or psychiatric treatment and any other conditions the Court imposes.  Other conditions may include producing clean drug and alcohol tests. Further you must not commit any offences during the period of your probation.

If you fail to comply with your probation order, you will be required to re-appear before the court for re-sentencing.

The Court may order that you complete both a community service and probation order.

5. Intensive Correction Order

An intensive correction order involves you serving a term of imprisonment in the community and consists of the requirements of both a community service order and probation order put together.  Further, you will be required to meet with your corrective services officer on a more regular basis and will generally be required to spend a greater number of hours completing programs and community service.

If a court makes an intensive correction order against you, it has no option but to record your conviction (see below).

6. Suspended Sentence

A suspended sentence is where the Court imposes a term of full time imprisonment upon an offender, but the sentence is suspended upon the offender being released on a recognizance (good behaviour bond) for a period of up to five years. 

If you commit an offence during the period of the good behaviour bond, you will be resentenced and may be required to serve part or all of the period of imprisonment imposed.

7. Imprisonment and Parole

The Court may order imprisonment with or without the option of early parole. If the court orders imprisonment without early parole, you must serve the whole period imposed and then enter society under a parole order. However, in the event the court makes an order that you be eligible for parole after a certain period of the sentence is served, then you may be released earlier at the election of the parole board.

The effect of parole is the similar to that of an intensive correction order, however with a stricter position on your ability to travel.

Conviction vs No Conviction Recorded

Aside from your penalty, the Court must also make an order as to whether your conviction for the charge is recorded or not. 

If most instances the Court will order that your conviction is recorded and for penalties numbered 5 to 7 above, the Court must record a conviction. If your conviction is recorded, you are required to declare that conviction when requested on formal documents. 

In some limited cases, the Court may decide that no conviction be recorded in respect of a charge despite entering a plea of guilty. The Court is only obligated to make an order that no conviction be recorded if it imposes penalty number 1 above.  For penalties number 2 to 4, the Court has discretion whether to record a conviction or not.

It is unlikely that the Court will be will make an order that no conviction be recorded, unless you are a first time offender.  Even if you are a first time offender, the Court may still consider the circumstances of your matter are such that a conviction must be recorded.

It is important to note that this order is somewhat deceiving, as the charge will appear on your criminal history.  As in some situations you may still be required to declare your conviction despite the fact the Magistrate ordered that no conviction be recorded.  Accordingly, should always seek advice from a solicitor if you are unsure whether you are required to declare your conviction or not, this is of particular concern in certain job industries and in travel.

Licence Disqualification

If your offence is a traffic matter, you will be subject to a period of licence disqualification on top of your penalty.

 

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