I’m here to talk to you about a topic that clients often asked me about. Many of our clients have no prior criminal record. They’re charged for the first time with a DUI or another type of criminal charge and with no prior criminal record. They’re very concerned about going to jail and getting a break and getting the lightest sentence possible. This of course assumes that they don’t have a defence because many people are gonna have a defence and be able to win but we’re dealing with the situation where you come to us and it’s such an overwhelming case or you want to plead guilty. Say you’ve confessed or you just want to get it over with. Will I get that break? The courts certainly take into account that you’ve got no prior criminal record. You’re coming to the court with a clean slate. It’s called a mitigating factor in other words it lessens your sentence. You come to court and you plead guilty and the judge says to himself or herself, “Look were going to give this person credit for having never been in trouble before and give them a sentence which is on the lighter side if not the lightest sight possible because of your good prior character.” That’s what no criminal record shows. You’re a person who has lived a blameless life and you made one mistake. Often times in these situations as long as it’s not a very serious charge such as a sexual assault or another type of serious charge like an aggravated assault. First of all, we can usually avoid jail on a first time offender and second of all, you’re looking at a defence on the lighter side in many situations for example “theft under” charges or causing disturbances or domestic assaults or more minor assaults, we can avoid a criminal record if you plead guilty, the judge is going to look at the fact you have no records. They say “Look, we’re gonna give this person a break. It’s in his or her best interests and not contrary to society’s interest that we give them a conditional discharge or an absolute discharge. They plead guilty. There’s a finding that they’re guilty but we’re gonna give them a break. We put them on probation and their slate is still clean.” That’s a benefit of having no criminal record. That’s the benefit of that mitigating factor and certainly our courts are gonna take this in consideration and certainly a good lawyer is gonna use that as a negotiating factor or tool to get you the lightest sentence possible, assuming you don’t decide to take the case to trial.