Sentence Reductions For Guilty Pleas

By Jay Gormley, Julian V. Roberts, Jonathan Bild and Lyndon Harris
All common law jurisdictions offer sentence reductions to defendants who plead guilty rather than elect to be tried. The reductions vary in magnitude but a reduction of one-third if the plea is entered early is common, although a number of jurisdictions award lesser reductions while across the US the reduction is often in excess of one-third.
1 This report reviews the current law and practice regarding plea-based sentence reductions in England and Wales. We do not discuss plea negotiations, although these may affect the volume and timing of guilty pleas entered. Nor does the report explore the issue of sentence appeals in cases where the defendant enters a guilty plea, although this has been identified in the academic literature as being worthy of attention.
2 The focus is on the guideline issued by the Sentencing Council which came into effect on 1 June 2017. We provide a summary of the limited data trends over the period 2010-2020 and a review of current developments, including the Sentencing Council’s recent (November 2020) research report assessing the impact of the guideline.
Read the full report here.