Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Credit For A Not Guilty Plea

There is a principle in criminal law that if you plead guilty at an early stage you will receive credit for your guilty plea. In real terms that means you are likely to receive less of a sentence if you plead guilty than you would if found guilty at the end of a trial.

The title of this post is credit for a not guilty plea because in recent weeks I have had cases where my Clients have been found guilty at trial but have then received a somewhat lenient sentence, and a sentence that is far more lenient than they would have received should they have pleaded guilty at the first hearing.

Trials can sometimes be odd in that going through the prosecution evidence and defence evidence the nature of the case is made known to the Magistrates Court and not just the bare facts and mitigation that would be presented during a sentence hearing.

There are, in my opinion, two reasons why sentences can be more lenient upon conviction after a trial. The first reason is because the Court hears fuller facts and has some sympathy for the Defendant. The second reason is because they want the case to come to an end and decide to impose a minimal penalty so that the Court can finally wash it's hands of the case instead of dragging the case out with another hearing.


Cynic said...

Or more often than not the magistrates' are not relly convicnced the defendant is guilty of that offence but rather than admit the CPS/police are wrong they convict and award a conditional discharge with the words "this is a very serious offence and you're not going to get away with it"

nike free run sale said...

this is a very serious offence and you're not going to get away with it