612. Plea of justification necessary
612. (1) The truth of the matters charged in an alleged libel shall not be inquired into in the absence of a plea of justification under section 611 unless the accused is charged with publishing the libel knowing it to be false, in which case evidence of the truth may be given to negative the allegation that the accused knew that the libel was false.
Not guilty, in addition
(2) The accused may, in addition to a plea that is made under section 611, plead not guilty and the pleas shall be inquired into together.
Effect of plea on punishment
(3) Where a plea of justification is pleaded and the accused is convicted, the court may, in pronouncing sentence, consider whether the guilt of the accused is aggravated or mitigated by the plea.