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Pleas Notes

Law Notes > Criminal Procedure and Evidence Notes

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PLEAS Arraignment - beginning of trial on indictment, counts put to accused so he can plead guilty or not guilty.
- Should happen not less than two or not more than eight weeks from date of committal - SCA 1981 s.77 and r.39.1 CPR o Though discretion to give permission to start after 8 weeks.
- Accused brought into dock and counts read out. Jury kept out if there's any chance he will plead guilty to something, accused should tell of intent to plead guilty to alternative counts so they can be put to him first. Plea of not guilty ? prosecution must prove case beyond reasonable doubt and (for more defences raised) disprove them beyond reasonable doubt.
? Options for prosecuting advocate when accused pleads not guilty to some counts and P doesn't want to proceed o Propose to judge that they will offer no evidence, and judge will record NG for each offence denied by the accused. o Ask that counts to which accused plead not guilty be left on file and not proceeded w/ without leave of court or CA = common if accused pleads guilty to some bc if those convictions are later overturned, CA can give permission for prosecution to proceed w/ remaining counts. Plea of guilty ? Must be done by D himself (Ellis: advocate pleading guilty = a nullity and CA orders retrial). Goes straight to sentencing if guilty.
? Pleas by co-accused: if 1 co-D pleads guilty and the other does not, judge adjourns the case of the one who did. Ambiguous pleas - if accused responds in an ambiguous way (e.g. guilty to reciving but was not sure if the goods were stolen), judge should try to elucidate the plea by explaining the elements of the offence charged and then put it to him again. If still ambiguous, not guilty plea is entered - CLA 1967 s.6(1). Involuntary pleas
- Cannot pressure the accused.
- Pressure from judge/counsel (e.g. Barnes where judge told D he was guilty halfway through - would have been a nullity if D changed his plea).
- Pressure from accused's own counsel - advice that prosecution case so strong that only possible course of action is to plead guilty renders guilty plea a nullity. o Goodyear laid down principles: best advice possible, mention that NG plea gets lesser sentence, emphasis that D has choice and that he should not plead guilty if he is NG. Only nullity where D loses ability to make voluntary and deliberate choice
- Pressure from reasons internal to D - e.g. drugs Plea of 'Guilty' to a Lesser Offence
? When count put to accused on which jury could find him guilty of a lesser offence, he can offer NG plea as charged but guilty to a lesser offence (CLA 1967 s6(1)(b)).
? Prosecution can accept or reject o Crown Prosecutors Code para9.1 says only accept if court can pass sentence reflecting seriousness of offence.

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