Credit for guilty plea
Credit for guilty plea

The following Corporate Crime guidance note provides comprehensive and up to date legal information covering:

  • Credit for guilty plea
  • Basis for giving credit for an early guilty plea
  • The first reasonable opportunity—the first stage of the proceedings
  • Advising on plea in a complex cases
  • Reductions in sentence in specific scenarios
  • Assistance by offenders
  • Entering a guilty plea
  • Withdrawing a guilty plea

Basis for giving credit for an early guilty plea

The sentencing court is under a statutory duty to take into account the stage in proceedings at which the offender indicated their intention to plead guilty and the circumstances in which that indication was given. This means that the court will reduce the sentence it had determined in order to reflect the fact that the offender had pleaded guilty. How much credit is given for the guilty plea depends upon the stage at which the guilty plea is indicated by the defendant. The maximum level of reduction in sentence for a guilty plea is one-third.

The purpose of giving credit to those who plead guilty is to encourage those who are guilty to admit their guilt, as early as possible, so as to save the time and expense of a trial (on both sides). It is not intended to pressurise those who are not guilty to plead guilty and every defendant is entitled to put the prosecution to proof as to their case and it is for the prosecution to prove its case beyond reasonable doubt (see Practice Note: Burden and standard of proof). However, every defendant (who is guilty) also has the choice to plead guilty and thereby to secure a reduction (or credit) for themselves in terms of the

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