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Welcome clarity on early guilty pleas

Christopher Gribbin discusses new sentencing guidelines, the recent DPA agreed with Tesco, and the introduction of unexplained wealth orders

14 June 2017

On 7 March 2017, the Sentencing Council published definitive sentencing guidelines on the appropriate reduction in sentence for a guilty plea. The new guidelines, which will apply in both the magistrates’ and crown courts, come in to force for all cases in which the first hearing is held on or after 1 June 2017.

Under the new guidelines, the maximum level of reduction in sentence for a guilty plea is set at one-third of the sentence that would otherwise apply and is reserved for when a guilty plea is indicated at the first stage of proceedings. The guidelines provide that the first stage of the proceedings will ‘normally’ be the first hearing at which a plea or indication of a plea is sought and recorded by the court.

For those defendants who enter a guilty plea after the first stage of the proceedings, the guidelines set out a sliding scale of reduction in...

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