Will a defence lawyer help me if I’m guilty?

If you are guilty of a crime a defence lawyer can still provide considerable help. They can help you: 

  • Determine your defence options and whether a plea of ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ is appropriate for your case.
  • By defending you in court to ensure the facts of what happened are accurately represented before the judge and jury (if applicable).
  • By helping the judge to determine a just and fair sentence if you are found guilty.
  • Appeal your sentence when it is excessive and not fitting to the crime committed.

Should I plead “Not guilty”?

There are situations where someone may be convinced they have committed a crime, but in reality, what they are being charged for does not match what has actually occurred. Situations like this may cause me to advise my client to plead ‘not guilty’ to that offence but negotiate with the prosecution to change the charges to reflect what actually occurred.

If my client has told me they are guilty but wish to maintain a “not guilty” plea in court, then I must represent them whilst also not deceiving or knowingly and recklessly misleading the court. In these cases, all defence lawyers are extremely limited in how they can run the case as they are bound by their legal obligations first to the court.

However, it is the defendant’s human right to take the matter to trial, so all solicitors must put aside their personal feelings and comply with the client’s lawful instructions. Legally I cannot deny help to a client if I dislike the information I discover in the process of working with them or disagree with the plea they choose to make in court.

If you believe that you should plead “not guilty”, then click here to read “Does ‘innocent until proven guilty’ apply in Queensland?”

What happens in court if I’m guilty?

When a client is guilty, either due to a plea or finding of guilt, the matter proceeds to sentence.

Defence lawyers are still important in this space. When sentencing offenders, the legislation sets out a number of matters the court must balance when imposing a penalty for the crime.  Two relevant sentencing considerations we will often point to are the “mitigating features” and the “personal history” of the defendant.

The other function of a defence lawyer in this space is to assist the Magistrate or Judge by providing submissions about the law to help the judge impose a just sentence. This may involve tendering legislation and pointing to binding or persuasive case law that sets a “range” of sentences available.

There are cases where the magistrates or judges impose a sentence that is “excessive” for the crime. In these instances, we may file an Appeal to review the decision by a superior judge.

Just because someone did something wrong does not mean the punishment should be disproportionate to the crime. Recently we won an appeal where a woman was fined almost $80,000 for her ex-husband’s failure to lodge his tax return. The ATO could not find him, so they prosecuted her. It was going to take 4,000 weeks (almost 78 years) for her to pay off the fine she “technically” committed, though actually committed by her ex-husband.

In cases like this, you may be found guilty, but we can fight to get you a fair sentence.

If you need a defence lawyer to stand by you and fight for justice in your situation, then we’d love to help. Find out more about RK Law’s legal services or contact the team today.

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