When you read your disclosure, pay close attention to the synopsis. The synopsis is usually found in the first few pages of the disclosure package. You may agree with some, all, or none of the synopsis.
It is very important to tell your lawyer or duty counsel whether you agree with what is written in the synopsis because they will need to know this to give you advice about a possible guilty plea. Your lawyer or duty counsel will be able to give you legal advice about things such as difficulties the Crown could have in proving the case against you, or possible defences you may have. They can also tell you what the Crown is seeking as a sentence and what sentence you are likely to receive if you plead guilty.
Being legally guilty of an offence , and the concept of guilt as we know it in everyday life, are not necessarily the same thing. Being legally guilty can be quite complicated and involves principles your lawyer or duty counsel can explain to you. In order to plead guilty, the physical acts or omissions that you agree took place have to amount to a criminal offence.
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In most cases, this means that your actions amounted to a criminal offence and that you meant to do it. Doing something accidently is generally not enough to support a guilty plea for most offences. For example, you could be found guilty of theft for stealing something in the situation that follows:. A person walks into a store. In this situation, the person would be able to plead guilty because they physically took the item, and they had the guilty mental state of intentionally leaving the store without paying for it.
Always bring your disclosure. If you speak to duty counsel, they can review it with you. Your lawyer or duty counsel may also ask you to bring some things with you to help with your guilty plea, such as:. Duty counsel or your lawyer may have already asked you these questions in private. The plea inquiry is done so the judge knows you understand what it means to plead guilty; that you are aware of your option to plead not guilty and have a trial ; and that you are aware of what can happen to you if plead guilty.
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The plea inquiry questions are:. The decision to plead guilty is yours, and yours alone. It is not up to your lawyer or anyone else — though your lawyer or duty counsel will have given you legal advice to help you make your decision. The judge will want to know that nobody is forcing you to plead guilty. If you have been forced or coerced into pleading guilty, the judge will not accept your guilty plea. You must have truthfully done something that amounts to an offence in order to plead guilty. You must also have the proper guilty state of mind at the time of the offence to plead guilty.
By pleading guilty, you are telling the judge that you understand that you have a right to have a trial where the Crown has to prove the charges against you, and that by pleading guilty, you are giving up that right. The judge will also want you to be aware that pleading guilty could mean that you will have a criminal record, or could possibly go to jail. It is very important to understand what the Crown is asking for as a sentence before you make a decision to plead guilty.
You should also be aware of the sentence that your lawyer or duty counsel is asking for. In some cases, your lawyer or duty counsel may be asking for the same sentence as the Crown. This is called a joint submission.
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If your lawyer and the Crown have a joint submission for the judge, the judge does not necessarily have to agree to it. An arraignment is the part of the guilty plea process where you tell the court how you plead. The court clerk or sometimes the judge will begin the arraignment by reading out the charge or charges to which you are pleading guilty. You should always be aware of what charges you are pleading guilty to before you make the decision to plead guilty. However, in some cases, after you have entered your plea the case will be adjourned and the facts read out on another day.
The facts are a very important part of any guilty plea. It is extremely important that you understand the facts and agree with them before you make the decision to plead guilty. Your lawyer or duty counsel will go through the facts with you before you enter a guilty plea. The facts are usually the events described in the synopsis , and they are read out in court by the Crown. However, the facts in your case may be different from the synopsis if the Crown and your lawyer or duty counsel have agreed to a different set of facts for your guilty plea.
It occurs after the facts have been read out, and the accused agrees with the facts that amount to a criminal offence.
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After hearing the facts read out, if the judge is satisfied that those facts amount to a criminal offence or offences , the judge will ask you if you agree with the facts. Sentencing may happen right after the finding of guilt, or, if your case is adjourned, it may happen days, weeks or even months later. Some offences are part of other offences. In that case, the Crown may agree to let you plead to the offence of assault instead. There are many reasons why you may want to plead guilty to a lesser included offence.
It is usually because pleading guilty to the lesser offence will have less-severe consequences such as a lower sentence. If you are pleading guilty to a lesser included offence, your lawyer or duty counsel should help you with the arraignment part of the guilty plea.
Three days after Blazak walked out of prison, Tucker was arrested for car theft. Scire was sentenced to death for hiring Clarence Smith to murder a police informant. The chief witnesses at the trial were members of a motorcycle gang given immunity for this and other crimes in exchange for their testimony. The convictions of both Scire and Smith see 56 above were overturned.
At retrial, Smith was acquitted. Scire pleaded guilty to manslaughter, while maintaining his innocence.
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He was immediately released in exchange for time served. Considerable doubt arose about whether Paradis had any involvement in the murder of a young woman, whether he was at the place the murder occurred, or even whether the murder occurred in the State of Idaho.
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The lawyer appointed to represent Paradis had only been practicing for 7 months and had never tried a criminal case before a jury or had a client facing a felony charge. Some of the trial witnesses have now recanted their testimony. While the jury was deliberating, the prosecution offered Payne a plea whereby he would receive a sentence to run concurrently with the sentence he already was serving, but the offer was refused because his lawyers thought an acquittal was likely.
Instead, he was sentenced to death and was scheduled to be executed on Nov. The chief witness against Payne, Robert Smith, received a 15 year reduction in sentence. Finally, with over 3, people on death row, undoubtedly more cases will be discovered where the accused is actually innocent.
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Hopefully, these mistakes will be discovered before the individuals are executed, though there is certainly no guarantee this will happen. Some of the cases in which the conviction and death sentence still stand, despite considerable evidence of innocence are:. Carriger was scheduled to die on December 6, for a murder he steadfastly maintains he did not commit.
As a result of his original trial testimony against Carriger, Dunbar was given immunity for other charges. Dunbar has since died. A three judge panel of the 9th Circuit U. Substantial information from a Postal Service Investigation was withheld from the defense. The new evidence implicates others in the murder.
It may merit a new trial and possibly lead to the acquittal of Spirko. In September, , the 4th Circuit of the U. Court of Appeals reinstated his death sentence and upheld his conviction. Chandler was the first person sentenced to death under the federal death penalty law for murders in the course of drug conspiracy. Jarrell committed the murder, and in exchange for his testimony against Chandler, state murder charges against him were dropped, and he was given a 25 year sentence on marijuana distribution charges.
Now Jarrell admits that he lied at the trial and that Chandler was not involved in the murder. Jarrell said he was coerced by prosecutors into testifying against Chandler. Chandler had been scheduled for execution in The District Court in Birmingham denied his request for a new trial on April 7, and that petition is on appeal.
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