This chapter has information about some common minor offences that people face in the criminal courts, particularly when facing charges for the first time. These include:
For information about driving offences, go to the chapter, “Driving and traffic law”.
For each of those areas, the chapter has information like:
This chapter cites a number of New Zealand court decisions as legal authority for the law as we’ve stated it. Sometimes we’ve also set out the facts and outcome of particular cases as examples. (For more information about how to find these cases, see “Other resources / How to find the cases we’ve cited in this chapter” at the end of this chapter.)
For information about how the criminal courts work, see the chapter “The criminal courts”, and for information about what legal advice you can get if you can’t afford to pay a lawyer, see the chapter “Legal aid”.
Note: The “Shoplifting” section in this chapter is an expanded version of the separate “Shoplifting” chapter that was in the 2015/16 edition of this manual.
If you’re convicted of an offence, the judge will usually first set a “starting point” sentence, based on what you did in your particular case and including any features that made it worse (“aggravating factors”) or not as bad (“mitigating factors”) than it would otherwise have been.
After setting this starting point, the judge will then turn to you, your current situation and any criminal record you have. The judge will apply “uplifts” (increases) for any aggravating factors relating to you, and “discounts” (reductions) for mitigating factors relating to you.
In general, the earlier you plead guilty, the greater the reduction (“discount”) you’re likely to get for pleading guilty. However, other factors in your particular case will be taken into account too, such as how much you’ve admitted responsibility for the offending and shown that you’re sorry.
The maximum discount you’ll be able to get for a guilty plea will be 25%.