Before a client moves forward with a guilty plea in exchange for a joint position on sentence, it is wise to confirm the terms of resolution in writing with the prosecution.
While verbal agreements between lawyers are commonplace in criminal practice, counsel must never overlook the possibility of misinterpretation or miscommunication. Written confirmation of the details of a joint submission in advance of plea will alert counsel to any misunderstandings prior to your client giving up his right to contest the allegation.
Written confirmation also serves to ensure that the details of the resolution are not forgotten.
Furthermore, it is important to have a fulsome written record of what was discussed in the event that another Crown takes carriage of the file prior to the conclusion of the proceeding.
The bottom line is that a brief e-mail or letter confirming an oral agreement will go a long way to avoiding unnecessary frustration at a later stage of the process.
The next post in this series will examine practical considerations for Defence counsel when contemplating whether it is in a client's best interests to proceed by way of a joint submission on sentence.