Only defendants who plead guilty the first time they are asked to enter a plea will get the maximum one-third sentence reduction, under reforms to encourage early admissions.
The Reduction in Sentence for a Guilty Plea Guideline consultation, closing on 5 May, introduces a sliding scale of sentence reductions with maximum credit reserved for those who plead guilty the first time they are asked in court.
Those who plead guilty at a later time, but before trial, will get a reduction of one-fifth. Those who plead guilty on the day of trial will get one-tenth taken off and those who plead during the trial will get no discount.
Mark Fenhalls QC, Chairman of the Criminal Bar Association, cautioned against making the guidelines ‘straitjackets’ that prevent judges doing justice.