Despite what Hollywood would have you believe, this rarely happens. When it does occur, there are strict rules which govern how a solicitor can act for such clients. The overriding rule is that we must not mislead the Court. Our duty to the Court is above the duty to a client.
Firstly, you advise the client of the difficult issues for the solicitor with that course, including the strict and substantial restrictions on the way in which the defence can be conducted. The advice also must include that there are various advantages to pleading guilty, such as a lesser penalty, than if convicted after a trial.
If the client wishes to continue, the lawyer may cease to act if there is enough time to find an alternate lawyer. If there is insufficient time to engage a new lawyer or the client requests that the lawyer continues to act and he agrees, we cannot for example falsely suggest that another person committed the crime, or set up a case inconsistent with the admission.
This is a difficult situation which means that we are putting the police “strictly to proof”. That is making the prosecution prove each aspect of the offence charged. At the end of the case, a lawyer can only make submissions on the basis that the police have not proven their case beyond reasonable doubt.
If the client insists on giving evidence that is inconsistent with his admission, then the lawyer has no choice but to cease acting.
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This is intended for general information and does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Formal legal advice should be sought.