Offenders who plead guilty to an offence will receive a discount to their sentence. If a guilty plea is entered at the first available opportunity (which will usually be considered to be at their first court appearance) then a reduction of one-third will be applied to the sentence. Thereafter, the available sentence reduction for a guilty plea takes a sliding scale from a maximum of one-quarter (where the defendant enters a guilty plea after the first opportunity but before the first day of the trial) to one-tenth (if the defendant waits until the first day of their trial to enter a guilty plea). According to the Crown Prosecution Service’s annual report, 78% of cases in the magistrates’ courts and 71% of cases in the Crown Court were resolved by a guilty plea in 2018-19.
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Gormley, J., Roberts, J.V., Bild, J. and Harris, L. (2020) Sentence Reductions for Guilty Pleas: A review of policy, practice and research. Available here: Sentence Reductions for Guilty Pleas
Peay, J. and Player, E. (2018) Pleading Guilty: Why Vulnerability Matters. The Modern Law Review, 81(6): 929-957
Sentencing Council (2017) Sentence Reductions for a Guilty Plea. Definitive Guideline https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Reduction-in-Sentence-for-Guilty-Plea-definitive-guideline-SC-Web.pdf
Sentencing Council (2017) Research to Support the Development of a Guideline for Reduction in Sentence for a Guilty Plea https://www.sentencingcouncil.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/Guilty-plea-research-report_final.pdf
Roberts, J.V. and Bradford, B. (2015) Sentence Reductions for a Guilty Plea: New Empirical Evidence from England and Wales. Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 12(2): 187-210