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Beware the new early guilty plea sentencing guidelines

Posted on 8th March 2017

Criminal defence practitioners this week will have approached the publishing of the new definitive guideline on reduction in sentence for a guilty plea, which becomes effective in June, with some trepidation. The proposed guidelines released last year for consultation seemed to demonstrate a worryingly prescriptive approach and suggested a significant limiting of reductions in sentence for pleas proffered after the first hearing.

There must be some relief then that the present levels of reduction for guilty pleas remain. The maximum is still one third reduction on the sentence that would have been passed after a contested trial. And the maximum for pleas entered later remains one quarter, reducing to a tenth on the day of trial.

Ruth Harris is a partner at Hodge Jones & Allen solicitors specialising in criminal defence work

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