Before pleading guilty (even for a minor offence) a person should get legal advice.
If the defendant has entered a plea of guilty the magistrate will first ask the police prosecutor to outline the facts of the case. These facts should have been obtained by the defendant or the defendant's lawyer before this hearing and should have been checked for accuracy by the defendant before they are given in court.
Sometimes the defendant admits that she or he has committed the offence but disputes some of the allegations made by the prosecution. In this situation there would be a disputed fact hearing on another day, see The Sentencing Process below. After the prosecutor has outlined the facts, the prosecutor also tells the magistrate of any prior offences the defendant has committed and any injury, loss or damage resulting from the offence [see Criminal Law (Sentencing) Act 1988 (SA) s 7].
The defendant or the defendant's lawyer then presents any facts or other relevant information in mitigation (lessening) of the penalty, (see The Sentencing Process below) and addresses the court on why a severe penalty should not be imposed and what might be the most appropriate penalty.
The magistrate may also seek information about anything else which in her or his opinion, is relevant to the matter [see Criminal Law (Sentencing) Act 1988 (SA) s 6]. The magistrate then imposes a penalty, see The Sentencing Process, Penalties below. The reasons for the sentence imposed should be stated and the legal effect of the sentence explained to the defendant [see Criminal Law (Sentencing) Act 1988 (SA) s 9].
The content of the Law Handbook is made available as a public service for information purposes only and should not be relied upon as a substitute for legal advice. See Disclaimer for details. For free and confidential legal advice in South Australia call 1300 366 424.