Indications on sentence

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

  • Indications on sentence
  • Procedure for indication on sentence
  • The defence
  • The prosecution
  • The judge
  • Consequences of an indication on sentence

Indications on sentence

Judicial independence is fundamental to the rule of law. The integrity of the criminal justice system depends on a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal. Alongside these fundamental principles exists the need to ensure justice is carried out expeditiously and there is a recognised need for discussions on plea to take place. An advance indication as to likely sentence is part of this process. The potential advantage of gaining an indication on sentence in advance is that the defendant can make a better informed decision whether to plead guilty or not.

The Attorney General's guidelines on the acceptance of pleas emphasises the importance of transparency in the conduct of justice and, in particular, sets out a formalised process for the provision of indications on sentence in the Crown Court. These are generally known as 'Goodyear indications'.

The Court of Appeal issued guidelines that amount to the introduction of a formalised procedure of advance sentence indication in R v Goodyear. These are now contained in the Criminal Practice Directions—consolidated up to amendment No 11, CPD VII Sentencing C: Indications on sentence.

The objective of the guidelines is to safeguard against the creation or appearance of judicial pressure on a defendant.

Only the Crown Court can provide an indication on sentence. Such indications are not available in the magistrates’ courts. In practice, the issue of

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