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The benefits of a Sentence indication in Victorian magistrates courts

Many defendants charged with criminal or traffic offences to be heard in Victorian Magistrates Courts wish to plead not guilty to some or all of these charges. However, they usually find that having the matter listed for a contested hearing is a long drawn out process over a period of 6 to 12 months with at least 2 to 3 court hearings (with increasing legal expenses).

Also, long delays in finalising criminal charges can be a highly stressful experience Finally a defendant who pleads not guilty and is found guilty often receives a harsher sentence than if they had pleaded guilty to the charges.

Defendants may be able to avoid these problems by having their lawyer seek a sentence indication from the magistrate hearing the matter.

The court hearing proceeds with the defendant 's lawyer seeking a sentence indication The magistrate then hears the charges a summary of the police evidence and prior convictions( if any ) The Magistrate usually give an indication of the sentence they would impose if a plea of guilty is entered

The lawyer and the defendant then confer outside the court and if the defendant is satisfied  with the sentence indication they go back before the magistrate a plea of guilty is entered and the sentence already indicated is imposed

There are three important things to remember about sentence indications

  1. most, but not all magistrates will give them
  2. Sentence indications cannot be increased once given.For example, a magistrate cannot give an indication of a fine and then subsequently impose a community correction order if a plea of guilty is entered
  3. Sentence indications that resolve criminal charges ultimately involved a plea of guilty Before seeking a sentence indication careful advice needs to be obtained from an experienced criminal lawyer about the charges and the police case against the defendant 

Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.

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