​ሕግንና ደንብን በተመለከተ እርዳታ ማግኘት ይፈልጋሉን? - Amharic | هل تحتاج لمساعدة قانونية؟ - Arabic | ܤܢܝܼܩܵܐ ܝ݇ܘ̤ܬ ܠܗܲܝܵܪܬܵܐ ܩܵܢܘܿܢܵܝܬܵܐ؟ - Assyrian | Need Legal Help? - Auslan | Treba li vam pravna pomoc? - Bosnian | Burmese â Need Legal Help? | 需要法律帮助吗? - Chinese Simplified | 需要法律幫助嗎? - Chinese Traditional | Trebate li pravnu pomoć? - Croatian | ضرورت به کمک قانونی دارید؟ - Dari | Wïc Kuɔɔny në Wɛ̈t Löŋ? - Dinka | آیا به کمک حقوقی نیاز دارید؟ - Farsi | Gadreva na Veivuke Vakalawa? - Fijian | Kailangan ninyo ba ng tulong na panglegal? - Filipino | Besoin d’aide juridique ? - French | Χρειάζεστε βοήθεια σε νομικά ζητήματα - Greek | क्या आपको कानूनी सलाह चाहिए? - Hindi | Butuhkan Bantuan dalam Masalah Hukum? - Indonesian | Hai bisogno di assistenza legale? - Italian | ត្រូវការជំនួយលើបញ្ហាផ្លូវច្បាប់ឬទេ? - Khmer | 법적인 도움이 필요하십니까? - Korean | Ви треба ли помош со правни работи? - Macedonian | कानूनी सहयोग चाहिएको छ? - Nepalese | Necessita de ajuda com questões jurídicas? - Portuguese | Вам нужна юридическая помощь? - Russian | E Manaomia Fesoasoani i Mea Tau Tulafono? - Samoan | а ли вам треба помоћ у правним питањима? - Serbian | Ma u baahan tahay Caawimmad xagga sharciga ah?- Somali | ¿Necesita ayuda con cuestiones jurídicas? - Spanish | சட்ட உதவி தேவையா? - Tamil | ท่านต้องการความช่วยเหลือทางด้านกฎหมายไหม? - Thai | Fiema’u ha tokoni Fakalao? - Tongan | Yasal Danışmaya İhtiyacınız mı var? - Turkish | Cần Được Giúp Đỡ Về Luật Pháp? - Vietnamese |

Pleading guilty or not guilty

Before you go to court you should decide how you want to plead. On the first court date you will have to tell the registrar or magistrate whether you are entering a plea of guilty or not guilty.

Icon - alertBefore you decide to plead guilty or not guilty, you should get legal advice.

Icon - alertIf you have a mental health issue, an intellectual disability, or you have been charged with a serious driving offence or an offence relating to drugs or alcohol, you should get legal advice as there are some specific options that may be available to you. 

    ​​Deciding how to plead

    When deciding how to plead, you should consider the following:

    • Do you have a defence?
    • Was the CAN sent in time?
    • Do you agree with the police facts sheet?
    • Do you have the time?
    • Can you get to court?
    • What penalties could you get?
    • Is there any benefit in pleading guilty?
    • Should you get a lawyer?

    Do you have a defence?

    A defence is an explanation or reason that suggests you should be found not guilty of a charge. A defence can be a denial that you did what the prosecutor says you did. You may also have a defence if you have a legal excuse or justification for your actions.

    Icon - alert  Working out whether you have a defence to a charge can be very difficult. You should get legal advice about the circumstances of your case as soon as possible.

    Was the CAN sent in time?

    For some driving and minor criminal offences the police must charge you no later than six months after the offence was committed. If you have received a CAN more than six months after the offence was committed, you should get legal advice.

    Do you agree with the police facts sheet?

    The police write the facts sheet based on what they and any witnesses say they saw and heard. If you do not agree with the police facts sheet, you should get legal advice about whether you should:

    • ask the police to change the police facts sheet before entering a guilty plea
    • plead not guilty
    • ignore it.

    For more information, see Negotiating with the police.

    Do you have the time?

    Whether you plead guilty or not guilty, you will need to spend time preparing for court, and you will have to spend at least a day at court. If you want to plead guilty, and you are prepared for court, it is likely that you will only need to go to court once. If you plead not guilty you will need to go back to court on another day and sometimes more than one day.

    Can you get to the court?

    If you plead guilty, you can ask the court to have your case moved to another court (although the court may not agree to this). 

    If you plead not guilty, you will have to travel to the court where your case was first listed. This may be a long way from where you live or work.

    What penalties could you get?

    If you plead guilty, you could receive a penalty, such as a fine, a good behaviour bond, or for more serious crimes, a prison sentence or intensive corrections order.  You could also lose your licence and get a criminal record (there are some exceptions to this).

    Is there any benefit in pleading guilty?

    If you plead guilty early on, the court may give you a discount on the penalty. There is also the possibility the magistrate will dismiss the charges and impose no penalty. This is known as a 'section 10'.

    For more information about penalties, see The decision.

    Should you get a lawyer?

    You don't have to have a lawyer when you go to court. If you decide to represent yourself, you should still speak to a lawyer​ about whether to plead guilty or not guilty before you go to court.

    If you want to plead guilty, a lawyer can give you legal advice about how to prepare for court.

    If you want to plead not guilty, it is a good idea to have a lawyer represent you because hearings can be complicated.

    Icon - alertIf you are found guilty of an offence you may also be ordered to pay compensation to the victim, or restitution to the state. You should get legal advice to find out if this applies to you.

    Pleading guilty

    If you plead guilty it means you agree that you committed the offence you were charged with and you do not have a defence.

    When you plead guilty, the magistrate will usually sentence you on the same day. You may be sentenced on another day if you were charged with a serious offence, or if you agree or are ordered to participate in a course or program. 

    During the sentencing, the police prosecutor will give the magistrate a copy of the Court Attendance Notice (CAN), the police facts sheet, your criminal record and driving record. The magistrate will read these and will then ask if you have anything you want to say or if you want to hand up any documents. This is when you can make submissions and hand up documents to support your case. The magistrate will then decide your sentence. This is the penalty you should get, if any.

    For more information, see Pleading guilty.

    Pleading not guilty

    If you plead not guilty it means:

    • you did not do it, or
    • you did do it but you have a defence, or
    • you don't want to admit anything and you want to make the prosecution prove their case.

    When you plead not guilty, the magistrate will give you a hearing date. At the hearing, the prosecutor will present evidence to try and show the court that you are guilty. You can also present evidence that shows you are not guilty or that you have a defence. The magistrate will then make a decision.

    If you plead not guilty plea and you change your mind, you can change your plea to guilty. You can do this at any time before your hearing date or on your hearing date, but you should do this as soon as possible.

    For more information, see Pleading not guilty.

    Changing your plea

    If you have already entered a plea, but you want to change it, in some cases you can. 

    Changing your plea from not guilty to guilty

    If you have entered a plea of not guilty, you can change your plea to guilty at any time before or during the hearing. Before changing your plea, you should get legal advice.

    For more information, see Pleading not guilty.

    Changing your plea from guilty to not guilty

    You can only apply to change your plea from guilty to not guilty before you are sentenced. There must be exceptional circumstances for your plea to be changed from guilty to not guilty. Before changing your plea, you should get legal advice.

    For more information, see Pleading guilty. ​