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Could the guilty plea write out the role of the defence?

The tone set is that defendants who know they are guilty should plead guilty, writes Ruth Harris

19 April 2016

The Sentencing Council is consulting on updating the guideline for reducing sentences for guilty pleas. The council's draft guideline identifies the benefit that comes from defendants admitting their guilt. It seeks to maximise those benefits by encouraging the guilty to enter their guilty pleas early. By making a clear distinction between the reduction in sentence available at the early and later stages of the proceedings, the guilty are incentivised to admit their wrongdoing.

While it is proposed that the maximum reduction for a guilty plea remains set at one-third, out goes the possibility of that credit being compromised in the face of overwhelming evidence or by the defendant's lack of pre-court cooperation. Any relief defence practitioners may feel at this will be dampened by the tempering of judicial discretion and the drop in possible reductions for later guilty pleas.

The draft guidelines seek to pres...

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