Do you get a full criminal trial if you plead guilty?


May 19, 2011
I'm asking as a result the point being raised in an unrelated thread. In the UK, it's my understanding that you don't get a full criminal trial if you plead guilty to an offence, which makes sense to me. What would be the point of going through the whole process of determining your guilt if you've already pleaded guilty?

I don't know from extensive research / personal experience exactly what happens instead, but a quick google found this page:

It's light on details but I would guess the process is this:
You show up at court, the charges are read, you plead guilty, judge states your punishment, job done.
Or: You show up at court, the charges are read, you plead not guilty, then a full criminal trial including jury etc is scheduled for a later date? Or it starts then and there?

Is it different in other countries like the US?


Admin Emeritus Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
Here, if you plead guilty, it normally goes to a plea bargain, or straight to sentencing. In come cases a quasi trial is held, with a judge, and / or jury to determine sentencing. From what I have seen, most guilty pleas result in a plea bargain and the penalty is negotiated between the defense and the prosecutors. In very serious cases, such as murder, the best one can hope for by pleading guilty is avoiding the death penalty. As the old saying goes - "if you can't do the time, don't do the crime."

Some states have minimum and maximum sentences, depending on the crime. Federal has similar.