A guilty plea is a formal court appearance where the accused enters a plea of guilty to one or more of the charges against them. A guilty plea is the second last stage in the typical criminal process where the accused does not go to trial. When the accused proceeds to fight the charges at trial, they will plead not guilty.
When an accused intends to plead guilty to one or more of the charges against them, a guilty plea date will be set before a judge in either the Ontario Court of Justice or the Superior Court of Justice. To plead guilty, the accused must take unequivocal responsibility for the offence as charged and must admit to the facts of the case and to the core elements of the offence.
Typically, when an accused intends to plead guilty to one or more of the offences they are charged with, they will communicate this, either personally or through defence counsel to the Crown attorney. This is often done during Crown pre-trials. From that point, the Crown and defence counsel will negotiate the details of the plea. If the accused is charged with more than one offence, the Crown may agree to withdraw some of the charges in exchange for the accused pleading guilty to other charges. Once the accused is found guilty by the judge, they will proceed to a sentencing hearing.