It is critical to thoroughly prepare your defence strategy, to make sure the judge hears your side of the story.
Each criminal case is different so Geoff takes a long look at what the police say you did. All cases start the same way, you speak to Geoff in detail about your situation. He will then determine whether you can raise a strong defence, or if you should plead guilty.
If you plead guilty then case preparation becomes about persuading the court to impose the most lenient sentence possible, this is called a “plea in mitigation”.
If you decide to plead not guilty then a trial date is set. At trial the court hears evidence and a decision is made as to whether you are guilty or not .
When pleading not guilty, there is a lot of case preparation and research that is required, such as:
- read over large volumes of documents related to your case;
- apply to have the charges withdrawn or changed to a lesser charge;
- find out what the police say you did;
- obtain all the important documents from the police and prosecution;
- consider your defence strategy e.g. self defence, provocation, necessity, etc;
- research the relevant case law and criminal law legislation;
- investigate the evidence presented by the prosecution;
- find evidence to support your defence;
- collect witness statements that support your version of events;
- hire expert witnesses or investigators to make the prosecution’s case less credible;
The prosecution bears the burden of proof, you can only be found guilty if the jury (or judge) is convinced of your guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.” So the focus of any good defence strategy is to cast doubt on whether or not you committed the crime.
- ‘Pleading not guilty in the Magistrates Court’, retrieved February 15 2016, http://www.legalaid.wa.gov.au/InformationAboutTheLaw/crime/appearing/Pages/PleadingNotGuilty.aspx ,