Confession is a simplified procedure for a criminal case in court. The judge can pass sentence without indictments and main hearing.
Sentencing in this manner can be an advantage for the accused, because it creates less publicity and can often lead to rapid judgement.
A confession requires fulfilment of certain conditions including whether the offence can incur a prison sentence of more than ten years. The accused can also make a full confession supported by what the police know about the case. He or she can also consent to the case being heard as a confession, (see section 248 of the Criminal Procedure Act at lovdata.no).
In drink driving cases, a guilty plea from the accused is sufficient (if he/she cannot remember the incident because of the effects of the alcohol, a confession cannot be made).
What happens first?
If a criminal case is suitable for going to court as a confession, the police will ask for the accused's consent during the interrogation stage. If the accused consents, the prosecuting authority will refer the case to court with a recommendation for sentencing. The accused is usually summoned to attend court shortly after the case has been referred by the police. The accused will also refer a copy of the charge and the police’s recommendation.
The alternative to a confession is a main hearing with a jury (read more about bench trial), witnesses and full presentation of evidence.
Cases in which special sanction or custody are required cannot be heard as confessions.
Who takes part in the court session?
A confession case is heard by only one judge. A court stenographer is also present to ensure that the court record is an accurate reflection of the proceedings (stenographers take part in all cases with only one judge).
The accused will be present (in some instances, the accused can be allowed to take part via video conference).
The accused is not usually allowed to have defence counsel appointed at the public expense. On the other hand, defence counsel must be appointed if the police recommend a sentence of more than 6 months. Nevertheless, any defendant can hire defence counsel at their own expense.
There are no fixed rules as to whether the police have to attend the court or not. This is decided in each instance.
What happens in court?
The accused has to give an unconditional confession in court. That means a full explanation concerning all criminal acts. Testimony has to cover all objective aspects, i.e. what actually happened and the criteria for guilty have to be fulfilled. The accused can also comment on the recommended sentence.
In all confession cases, the accused is given a reduced sentence as a result of making a confession, see section 59 of the Penal Code (link to lovdata.no).
Usually, there are no witnesses in such cases. The injured party and his/her counsel will be notified of the court session. No notification will be sent to other injured parties.
Claims for compensation from the injured parties can be heard in the same case. If the injured party wants to testify on the compensation claim, he/she or his/her counsel will have to notify the court in advance.
Sentence is usually passed when the court adjourns.