Generally, a defendant who pleads ‘Guilty’ to having committed the offence(s) charged can expect that, where appropriate, any prison sentence imposed will be reduced by a specific percentage according to the stage at which such plea is made at court i.e. at the earliest possible opportunity or at another time throughout the course of the proceedings.

Accordingly, the earlier that the plea is entered, the more it is rewarded having regard to the lower cost and administrative time to both the Prosecution and the Court.

The importance of submitting a plea in the correct manner was highlighted on the 29 October 2020 when the Court of Appeal released its Judgment in R v Hodgin 2020 EWCA Crim1388.

Helen Holder of Kangs Solicitors explains the effect of this Judgement.

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Timing Of Plea | The Procedure and the Law | Kangs Criminal Solicitors

  • Certain offences are categorised as ‘either way’, meaning they can be tried in the Magistrates’ Court or Crown Court, or ‘indictable only’ meaning that trial must be before a ‘Crown Court.
  • The Criminal Procedure Rules state:

‘if the magistrates’ court sends the defendant to the Crown Court for trial, it must…ask whether the defendant intends to plead guilty in the Crown Court and (i) if the answer is “yes” make arrangements for the Crown Court to take the defendant’s plea as soon as possible, or (ii) if the defendant does not answer, or the answer is “no” make arrangements for a case management hearing in the Crown Court.’

  • The definitive Guideline on Reduction in Sentence for a Guilty Plea effective from 1 June 2017 states:

Where a guilty plea is indicated at the first stage of proceedings, a reduction of one third should be made (subject to the exceptions in section F).  The first stage will normally be the first hearing at which a plea or indication of plea is sought and recorded by the court.’

R v Hodgin 2020 EWCA Crim1388. | Kangs Criminal Defence Team

  • On the 13 February 2020, Hodgin was sentenced to six years nine months imprisonment for an offence of conspiracy to commit burglary, having received twenty five per cent credit for his ‘Guilty’ plea which he thought had been entered at the earliest opportunity. 
  • He appealed on the basis that, upon his belief that he had entered a plea at the earliest possible time, he should have received the full credit of one third.
  • His contention was that when the case was sent to the Crown Court from the Magistrates Court, the relevant form completed by his solicitors stated ‘likely guilty plea.’
  • However, when the Court of Appeal had to decide whether an indication of ‘likely guilty plea’ was sufficient to attract the full credit it decided that in order to obtain full credit there must be ‘an unequivocal indication of the defendant’s intention to plead ‘’Guilty.’” 
  • Completing the form stating words the same as or similar to ‘likely guilty plea’ was not an unequivocal indication and, accordingly, Hodgin was not entitled to full credit.

How Can We Help? | Kangs National Criminal Defence Solicitors 

This Judgment clearly shows the importance of detailed and considerate attention to the preparation of documents at every stage in the handling of a client’s defence.

If a ‘Guilty’ plea is not presented to the court at the correct time and in the required manner, the difference between the defendant receiving the maximum credit available at that particular time and any lesser amount of credit can potentially be measured in months or even years difference to a sentence. 

It is essential that a defendant is made aware of these sentencing considerations at the outset of the preparation of his defence and that all documents prepared and submitted are accurate.If you are aware that you are wanted for a criminal offence or have been arrested then you should seek representation by an experienced Solicitor immediately.

If we can be of assistance please do not hesitate to contact our team through one of the following:

Sukhdip Randhawa
srandhawa@kangssolicitors.co.uk
0121 449 9888 | 020 7936 6396 | 07989 521 210 (24hr Emergency Number)

Aman Murria
amurria@kangssolicitors.co.uk
0161 817 5020 0121 449 9888 

Helen Holder
hholder@kangssolicitors.co.uk
0121 449 9888 | 07989 521210