Guilty / Not Guilty
The question of ‘guilty or not guilty?’ is decided on the basis of a case being proved beyond reasonable doubt. If a magistrate (in the Magistrates Court) or jury (in the Supreme Court) is not satisfied that the prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt, the proper verdict is not guilty. Conversely, if the magistrate or jury is satisfied that the prosecution has proved its case beyond reasonable doubt a verdict of guilty will be returned.
Upon a finding of not guilty, that is the end of the matter, unless a costs application is made by a successful defendant. A costs application can be made so that a defendant can have their legal fees paid for by the prosecution. Upon a finding of guilty or upon the defendant’s plea of guilty, proceedings continue to the sentencing stage. At that point, the defendant, usually through a legal practitioner, makes submissions to the judge or magistrate in relation to the sentence that may be imposed. This is known as a plea in mitigation and the jury takes no part in this process.