Lockdown violations: 'Lawyer up before paying admission of guilt fine'

Lawyer William Booth said since the advent of the lockdown, there had been an explosion in admission of guilt agreements.

Handcuffs. Picture: @SAPoliceService/Twitter.

CAPE TOWN - A criminal lawyer is advising against paying admission of guilt fines if you are arrested for a lockdown violation.

South Africa is currently an adjusted level three lockdown aimed at curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

On Thursday, Lawyer William Booth said since the advent of the lockdown, there had been an explosion in admission of guilt agreements.

“The majority of the offences in terms of the Disaster Manage Act, allow people to pay an admission of guilt fine, and people think that will be end of it.”

But he said few people realised what it actually meant to sign the document.

“If you pay an admission of guilt fine, that will mean you get a criminal record.”

A criminal record can stay with you for as long as 10 years. Booth believes it's better to get a lawyer and have your day in court.

He said if your personal circumstances were compelling, the prosecutor would usually agree to withdraw the case.

Failing that, you can pay the price through a so-called diversion programme that will allow you to do community service without having to plead guilty and live with a criminal record.

Almost 300,000 people have been arrested for lockdown violations in South Africa since March last year.

LISTEN: Lockdown violations and your criminal record