The verdict - Criminal trials
If you are found not guilty, you will be acquitted and the matter is dismissed and finished. This has the same effect as if the police never charged you.
You may be awarded costs if you paid for legal advice before the trial. Generally, you cannot claim non-legal costs.
If you are found guilty, you will be convicted and sentenced for the offence. The conviction will appear on your criminal record, unless you are granted a spent conviction order.
Plea in Mitigation
Before the magistrate decides what penalty to impose, you will be given a chance to tell the magistrate about your personal circumstances, so they can be taken into account. This is called making a plea in mitigation.
The Magistrate may sentence you straight away, so you should have your plea in mitigation ready for the trial date just in case.
You may be able to ask the court to adjourn sentencing to another date, so you can be represented by a lawyer. The duty lawyer may be able to help you prepare a plea in mitigation.
Your plea in mitigation should talk about:
- Your age and personal circumstances
- Your family situation, including who you financially support or otherwise care for
- Your work, and if you are not working, whether you are on a government benefit
- Your weekly income, debts and expenses
- Your physical and mental health
- Any drug, alcohol, or other problems
- Anything else that you think might be relevant