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What does it mean to plead guilty to a lesser included offence?

Some offences are part of other offences. For example, say you are charged with “assault with a weapon” for hitting someone with an object that you used as a weapon (e.g., throwing a cell phone at someone and hitting them in the head). In that case, the Crown may agree to let you plead to the offence of assault instead. This is because assault is included as part of “assault with a weapon.”

There are many reasons why you may want to plead guilty to a lesser included offence. It is usually because pleading guilty to the lesser offence will have less-severe consequences such as a lower sentence.

If you are pleading guilty to a lesser included offence, your lawyer or duty counsel should help you with the arraignment part of the guilty plea. This is because, after the charge has been read out by the court clerk, you’ll be entering a plea of “not guilty” to the charge(s) as read, but guilty to a lesser included offence.