Pleading guilty or not guilty
If you are charged with a criminal offence, you will be required to state whether you plead guilty or not guilty. If you are charged with multiple offences, you may plead guilty to some offences and not guilty to others; guilty to all offences or not guilty to all offences.
In civil and family law matters, you do not need to enter a plea. See the civil matters section for more information.
Before a plea is entered, a summary case conference should take place. This is a meeting between you/your lawyer and the prosecuting agency – usually the police – to discuss the charge/s, alleged offending and the available evidence, identify areas where there is disagreement and where possible to resolve the dispute(s).
A summary case conference before the first mention hearing, can save time and increase the chances of reaching an early agreement. This may occur by phone, email or in person.
If you have a lawyer and have been provided with the preliminary brief of evidence, a summary case conference must be conducted before a matter can be listed for a contest mention or summary hearing.
If you plead guilty to a charge, it means you admit breaking the law and committing that offence.
A judicial officer will generally sentence you on the same day if you plead guilty, unless you need more time to prepare for the plea hearing.
See the Victoria Legal Aid website for more information about pleading guilty.
Pleading not guilty
If you plead not guilty, it means you do not agree that you broke the law or that you did what the prosecution say that you did. The prosecution is required to prove your guilt to the legal standard, beyond reasonable doubt.
The court must be notified as soon as possible of a not guilty plea so a new court date can be set. The matter will not be heard on the original date listed on your court documents but if you are on bail you must attend on that original date in order to request that your bail be extended to the new date.
If you plead not guilty and you change your mind, you can change your plea to guilty at any time. You should seek legal advice if you would like to change your plea.
See the Victoria Legal Aid website for more information about pleading not guilty.