Speak to a Brisbane Criminal Lawyer. Call 1300 331 331

Pleading Guilty to a Major Offence in Court

Mentions

The term ‘mention’ merely describes a time when a Magistrate addresses your particular matter in the Magistrates Court.  If you are represented you will generally only be required to attend the First Mention of your matter.

First Mention

In Queensland, all major offences are initially mentioned before a Magistrate. The First Mention of your matter is generally a simple procedural occurrence so that your Solicitor may inform the Magistrate how you intend to proceed.

When your matter is mentioned your Solicitor will direct you to stand up so the Magistrate can see who they are dealing with. At this time, the Magistrate will ask your Solicitor whether you want list the matter for a Committal Hearing, discontinue the matter in the Magistrates Court by way reason of an ex-officio indictment or adjourn your matter to another date.

Your Solicitor may suggest that you adjourn your matter to another date so that further information can be obtained.

Sometimes there may be more than one adjournment of your matter, where there are legitimate reasons for doing so.

Final Mention

On the final date your matter is mentioned, your Solicitor must either list the matter for a Committal Hearing or discontinue the matter in the Magistrates Court by way reason of an ex-officio indictment.

An ex-officio indictment is where your Solicitor applies to the Director of Public Prosecutions to have your matter sent straight up to the District Court or Supreme Court.  This is an option if you are sure you want to plead guilty.

However, if you or your Solicitor still has reservations about indicating a plea of guilty at this stage, then your Solicitor will list the matter for a Committal Hearing so they can receive a Brief of Evidence before entering a plea of Guilty.  In which case, the Court will also list your matter for a Review Mention.

Ex-Officio Avenue

As noted above, this avenue involves your Solicitor applying to the Department of Public Prosecutions for an ex-officio indictment.  After this is accepted, the Court will list the matter for mention in the District Court or Supreme Court before a Judge, so that the indictment may be presented.  The court your matter ultimately ends up in will depend on the charge.

An indictment is merely the formal document that lists your charges.

On the date that your indictment is presented, your Solicitor will enter a plea of guilty on your behalf and the Judge will list your matter for a sentence date.  See below for more on the sentence process.

Committal Hearing Avenue

As noted above, your Solicitor will list your matter for a Committal Hearing if they have reservations about entering a plea without first seeing the Brief of Evidence, which should be provided prior to the Review Mention that will be listed prior to the Committal.

Review Mentions

A Review Mention is a procedural date so that the Magistrate can be ensured that the matter is on track for the Committal.

If you are represented, you will not be required to appear at any Review Mention, rather your Solicitor will attend on your behalf for the purpose of advising the Court on the extent that the Brief of Evidence has been disclosed to us by the prosecution.

The Brief of Evidence is all the evidence the prosecution have against you in respect of the charge.  The Prosecution are supposed to disclose all of this material to your Solicitor by that review mention date.  However, it is not uncommon that there are multiple Review Mentions in order to obtain disclosure of all the evidence from the Prosecution.

Committal

A Committal Hearing is like a test-run for the Trial and will be held in the Magistrates Court before a Magistrate.  You and your Solicitor must attend the Committal, even if you still intend to plead guilty after receiving all of the Brief of Evidence.

It will generally involve the Prosecution presenting all their evidence to the Magistrate in full and some witnesses giving evidence as they would at the trial.

However as you intend to plead guilty, there will be no witnesses called. Rather the Committal Hearing will be completed by way of a “full hand up” of the evidence the Prosecution has.  The means that you will not cross examine any witnesses and all the evidence the Prosecution has against you is accepted on face value.

After all the evidence is handed up, your Solicitor may indicate that you intend to plead guilty and the proceedings will be discontinued in the Magistrates Court.  The Department of Public Prosecutions then has six months within which to have your matter listed for mention in the District Court or Supreme Court so that they may present an indictment against you.

On the date that your indictment is presented, your Solicitor will enter a plea of guilty on your behalf and the Judge will list your matter for a sentence date.  See below for more on the sentence process.

Sentencing for a Guilty Plea to a Minor Offence in Court

At the sentence the Prosecutor will address the Judge first and you should remain seated for this process.  The Prosecutor will also read out a summary of the evidence and may make a suggestion regarding an appropriate sentence. The Prosecutor may also tender some previous cases upon which he or she relies upon in their suggestion of an appropriate sentence.

Your Solicitor or Barrister will hand up any character references and any other relevant documentation at this time. Your Solicitor or Barrister will make submissions after the Judge has read what the Prosecutor and your Solicitor or Barrister have handed to the court.

The Judge will then respond.  The Judge may decide to deal with your matter immediately or may want to adjourn your matter so he or she can consider the material presented to them more thoroughly before passing his or her sentence.

In deciding the appropriate penalty to be imposed, the Judge would have considered the submissions made by both the Prosecutor and your Solicitor or Barrister. You should stand up when the Judge begins to talk in respect of your sentence.

It is unlikely that you will have to speak at any time during your sentence. If you are asked a question by the Judge, you should respond honestly. You may consult with your Solicitor if you do not understand how to answer the Judge’s question. Be sure to always be polite and refer to the Judge as “Your Honour”.

If you are unhappy with the decision do not argue with the Judge or pass comment in the Court room. Speak with your Solicitor outside the room about your rights to appeal. In the case that you are sentenced to immediate imprisonment, you should wait to speak with police staff upon your arrival at the watchouse about contacting your Solicitor.

The information contained in this page was accurate at the time it was published. You should confirm the accuracy of this information with us or another solicitor before relying upon it.

Penalties for a Guilty Plea to a Minor Offence in Court

For major offences the first type of penalty is unlikely to be imposed alone, but rather will be imposed in addition one of the other penalties.

It is important to note that the penalty will generally be more serious each time an offender commits a new offence. For example, imprisonment is a very real possibility for someone who is facing a disqualified driving charge with a history of previous disqualified driving offences.

Conviction vs No Conviction Recorded

Aside from your penalty, the Court must also make an order as to whether your conviction for the charge is recorded or not.

1: The Law

The relevant section that the Magistrate or Judge must consider when deciding whether or not to record a conviction, is section 12 of the Penalties and Scenting Act.  Click here to view that section. The effect of that section is outlined below.

In most instances the Court will order that your conviction is recorded and the Court must record a conviction if it sentences you with an Intensive Correctional Order, Suspended Sentence or Imprisonment. If your conviction is recorded, you are required to declare that conviction when requested on formal documents.

In some limited cases, the Court may decide that no conviction be recorded in respect of a charge despite entering a plea of guilty. The Court is only obligated to make an order that no conviction be recorded if it imposes a good behaviour bond as your penalty.  If you are sentenced with a fine, community service or probation, the Court has discretion whether to record a conviction or not.

It is unlikely that the Court will be will make an order that no conviction be recorded, unless you are a first time offender.  Even if you are a first time offender, the Court may still consider the circumstances of your matter are such that a conviction must be recorded.

It is important to note that the term ‘no conviction recorded’ is somewhat deceiving, as the charge will appear on your criminal history.  Further, in some situations you may still be required to declare your conviction on formal documents.  Accordingly, should always seek advice from a solicitor if you are unsure whether you are required to declare your conviction or not, this is of particular concern in certain job industries and in travel.

2: How long do I need to declare my conviction for?

The law considers a person is rehabilitated 10 years after the date of the conviction, if that person has not been conviction of any other criminal offence of misdemeanour since their conviction. Once the rehabilitation period has passed, you will generally no longer be required to declare that conviction unless you have in another criminal offence or misdemeanour in the meantime.

However, note that you may still be required to declare all prior convictions, regardless of how long ago they occurred, in your application to a particular job or role. Accordingly, if you are unsure whether you are required to declare your conviction, you should seek legal advice or contact that authority that is in charge of that profession.

This relevant sections that set out the above law are sections 6 and 9A of the Criminal Law (Rehabilitation of Offenders) Act Queensland.  Click here to see the relevant sections.

Licence Disqualification

If your offence is a traffic matter, you will be subject to a period of licence disqualification on top of your penalty.

The information contained in this page was accurate at the time it was published. You should confirm the accuracy of this information with us or another solicitor before relying upon it.

If you have are due to appear in court for either a criminal or driving offence it is important to seek advice from a lawyer who specialises in this area.

Call us on 1300 331 331 or book an appointment to see one of our lawyers.

Get Quick Legal Advice

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Your Phone Number (required)

Your State (required)

Subject

Your Message

Check if you're not a robot: