What’s the difference between pleading guilty and claiming trial?

by | Feb 6, 2024 | Media

What’s the difference between Pleading Guilty and Claiming Trial to a Charge?

If you’re accused of committing a criminal offence and you’ve been charged in Court, a very important issue you’d have to think through is whether you want to plead guilty or claim trial to the charges.

Here are some examples of the differences between pleading guilty or claiming trial.

If you’re pleading guilty:

  • You must admit to committing the offences as written in the charges
  • You must agree with the facts as written in the Statement of Facts (SOF)
  • You’ll be convicted by the Judge without a trial
  • You’ll not be allowed to challenge or contest the charges or claim trial after you’ve been convicted
  • You can only appeal against your sentence but not your conviction
  • You may receive a discount on your sentence for an early plea of guilt

If you’re claiming trial:

  • You’re disputing or denying the charges against you
  • You disagree with or deny essential facts written in the Statement of Facts (SOF)
  • A trial date is scheduled for the Prosecution to prove the charges and for you to defend yourself

You can plead guilty at any stage of the proceedings before the Judge delivers his judgment. You must think through your options carefully before you make your decision whether to claim trial or plead guilty.

If you choose to plead guilty in Court, the Prosecution will read out the Statement of Facts relating to the charges and state any previous convictions that you may have. If you admit to the Statement of Facts, your plea of guilt will be accepted by the Court and convict you accordingly.

After your conviction has been confirmed by the Court, you’re allowed to present your mitigation plea before the Court goes on to decide on the sentence and punishment to impose.

So, there you’ve it, some basic information on: what the difference is between Pleading Guilty and Claiming Trial to a Charge?

About the author

About the author

Jonathan Wong

Jonathan is the Founder and Managing Director of Tembusu Law. He is also the founder of LawGuide Singapore, a prominent legaltech startup which successfully created and launched Singapore’s first legal chatbot in 2017.