In Ottawa, there is a court dedicated to guilty pleas specifically court #7. The system as it currently stands, is built to encourage guilty pleas. In essence, the system makes it easier to plead guilty, than to take your charges to trial. There is nothing inherently wrong about pleading guilty, if in fact, you are guilty. There are advantages. In most instances, we are able to get many additional charges withdrawn after negotiations with the Crown. We are also able to obtain a reduced sentence as a result of the mitigation that ensues upon entering a plea of guilt. However, too many clients show up on their first day of court with intentions of pleading guilty, without having seen their disclosure, without having consulted a lawyer. As stated, the system perversely encourages this. However, the simplicity and expediency of a blind, self-rep guilty plea is fools gold. First, self-represented accuseds have absolutely no clue whether the Crown can even prove the case against them. While they have ideas as to what constitutes a strong case against them, in reality, their conception is often wrong. Second, a self-rep has no concept of whether an optimal plea bargain been struck. Often aggressive negotiations from your defence lawyer are what keeps you from being branded with a criminal record. Third, what about todays Judge? Is this a Judge who is known to be sympathetic to the mitigating factors of your particular plea? Or is this a Judge who is known to hammer accuseds with your type of charges? In theory, all Judges would impose the same sentence. In theory.
In reality, a seasoned lawyer with knowledge of the system is required to work out all of the possibilities of your plea to ensure that the least intrusive sentence at law is imposed. Even on a guilty plea, there are an infinite number of possibilities and often jail is one of them. If you have been charged with a criminal offence, make sure that you retain counsel to review your file with you to avoid becoming a self-rep statistic.