DO I NEED A LAWYER IF I’M PLEADING GUILTY?

February 26, 2014

A recent penalty handed down in the Adelaide Magistrates Court has highlighted the importance of getting legal advice even when pleading guilty to what seems like straight forward matters.

In a recent well publicised matter, the defendant was charged with a category 2 drink driving offence (0.08% to 0.149%) as well as a charge of driving without due care. The defendant had recorded a blood alcohol concentration of 0.122% which is in the mid-range of a category 2 offence (ie 0.08% or more and less than 0.15%). The minimum penalties for a category 2 offence are a fine of $1,100.00 and a six month licence disqualification.

In this situation, the defendant expressed remorse at her actions but did not make any further submissions in relation to penalty. The defendant was fined the sum of $1,300.00 and, after taking into account the disqualification period already served, was given a 9 1/2 month licence suspension.

The defendant knew that by not making any submissions in mitigation that her penalty would be higher than would otherwise be imposed.

This case really highlights the importance of having appropriate legal advice even in circumstances where a defendant enters in to a guilty plea. As this case demonstrates, a failure to put to the Court matters in mitigation of penalty may result in a far greater penalty than the minimum.