Admission of an alleged fine/crime has consequences that most people are not aware of and blindly admit to being released from confinement. Further, an admission of guilt eliminates the lengthy, frustrating and costly process of the court. Hence, an accused waives a variety of procedural rights that he or she would have had at a trial by opting to pay the admission of guilt fine.
The Criminal Procedure Act 51 of 1977 stipulates that the accused may, without appearing in court, admit his guilt in respect of the offence in question by paying the fine stipulated (admission of guilt fine) either to the clerk of the magistrate’s court or at any police station within the area of jurisdiction of that court.
Before you pay the admission of guilt fine this is what you need to understand about the rule of law as well as the consequences that might follow.
IN WHICH SITUATION WILL YOU BE ABLE TO PAY AN ADMISSION OF GUILT FINE?
In most instances, an admission of guilt may be offered to an accused by a police officer. The police officer will in most cases, give the accused a written notice explaining to the accused the offence they are being charged with and whether it is a minor offence. The officer may also issue a written notice if he/she believes that the offence won’t amount to the accused paying more than R 5000.00. In addition, an admission of guilt fine can be paid before the accused is required to appear in court. Alternatively, the admission of guilt fine shall be determined and be required to be paid after the accused has appeared in court.
One needs to bear in mind that an admission of guilt is different from a bail application. Bail is granted to an accused to secure temporary release until your next court date and for all future court appearances. In contrast, an admission of guilt fine is paid by the accused for a less serious offence without having to appear in court and it prevents an unnecessary overload of the court system.
THE CONSEQUENCES OF PAYING AN ADMISSION OF GUILT FINE
It is imperative to note that paying an admission of guilt fine still means that you will have a criminal record. The Criminal Procedure Act clearly states that the payment of an admission of guilt fine will be the same as being convicted and sentenced in court and such be recorded by the clerk of the court in the record. This occurs once the fine is paid and sent together with the appropriate information to the Magistrate.
Signing the admission might seem like the easy way out. However, it is advisable that once you are given the written notice by the Police Officer that you consult with your legal representative/attorney. They will advise you on what the admission of guilt is, as well as the consequences attached to it.
Lastly, an admission of guilt fine should not be taken lightly, because the consequences are quite serious, and it could inconvenience your future. In recent case law, one now has been provided with a remedy in terms of an admission of guilt whereby you may take the admission of guilt on review, and have it set aside. This process does require certain requirements to be met for your application to be reviewed and set aside. In all likelihood, you would require legal representation during this process.
Should you require any legal assistance in respect of an admission of guilt fine, please do not hesitate to contact us.