07/03/24

Sentencing Hearings | Effect of a ‘Guilty Plea’

Sentencing Hearings | Effect of a ‘Guilty Plea’
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A Sentence is the punishment imposed by a Magistrate or a Judge upon an offender who has been convicted of a crime as the result of the offender having pleaded guilty or found guilty either by a Magistrates’ Court or by a Jury following trial in a Crown Court.

The offender found guilty will face sentencing either immediately or at a later scheduled Sentencing Hearing. The principles of Sentencing Guidelines and Case Law are upheld to ensure consistency and fairness. Amandeep Murria outlines the circumstances.

Effect of Entering a Plea of ‘Guilty’

Depending on the timing of the submission of a ‘Guilty Plea,’ a defendant may avoid either part or the whole of a formal Trial, whether it be before a Magistrates’ Court or a Crown Court.

Determining whether to plead guilty can be enormously difficult, both emotionally and strategically. Each choice hinges on various factors, including the probability of a jury accepting the evidence presented in defence to the charge(s) faced.

Upon entering a "Guilty Plea," the expectation is that the court may consider reducing the severity of the Sentence it can impose, with the extent of reduction contingent upon the timing of the plea within the proceedings.

The maximum reduction in Sentence that a court may allow is thirty-three per cent of the maximum sentence it could impose, gradually decreasing on a sliding scale until no reduction is feasible. The possibility of reducing the Sentence presents a significant incentive, especially considering that a defendant found guilty after proceeding to trial cannot anticipate any such reduction.

Once a ‘Guilty’ verdict has been reached, a defendant cannot change a plea to one of ‘Guilty’ in the forlorn hope of gaining a reduction of Sentence. However, in exceptional circumstances, a ‘Guilty Plea’ can be varied to one of ‘Not Guilty.’

Sentencing Hearings

Following trial, the offender may face immediate sentencing or be scheduled for a Sentencing Hearing on another date. During this hearing, the court will thoroughly evaluate both the offence and the offender to reach a fair and proportionate Sentence.

Circumstances where the Sentencing will be adjourned include:

  • the need for the court to consider all the relevant factors,
  • time required for the preparation of a Pre-Sentence Report,
  • the conduct of psychological or psychiatric assessments,
  • any potential conflict of interest or procedural unfairness.

An adjournment should not exceed four months whereafter exceptional circumstances must be shown.

At a Sentencing Hearing:

  • the Prosecutor is required to ensure fairness both to the offender and the victim regarding the acceptability of pleas and provide assistance to the court,
  • the Prosecution will inform the court of the offences with which the offender has been convicted and how they pleaded,
  • the Prosecution will outline the facts of the case, highlighting important circumstances affecting the seriousness of the offences committed, the impact on victim(s) and any previous convictions,
  • the defence then responds explaining the circumstances of the offence and the offender’s background and all pertinent issues by way of mitigation, seeking to minimise the anticipated Sentence as much as possible.
  • both parties will address the court upon the relevant Sentencing Guidelines seeking to influence the Court with the level of Sentence each party considers appropriate.
  • if the offender has been convicted in a Magistrates’ Court of an ‘either-way’ offence, the Magistrates may pass the case to the Crown Court for Sentence if they do not possess adequate Sentencing Powers,
  • Sentence will be passed in accordance with the Sentencing Guidelines and any mandatory sentencing requirements.
  • the Judge will provide an explanation for the sentence passed.

How Can We Assist?

KANGS enjoys an enviable national and international reputation for its professional criminal defence work conducted on behalf of clients charged with alleged criminal activity of every nature.

In the course of such defence work, on occasions a client will decide not to contest the Prosecution evidence at Trial and plead Guilty and, unavoidably, there are instances where a Jury does not accept the evidence submitted and convicts a client.

In both scenarios, great expertise is required to ensure that the outcome achieved for each, and every client is the absolute best that can be achieved. The Team at KANGS is accustomed to guiding and advising clients who are minded to plead Guilty in circumstances where it is envisaged that a Jury would, more likely than not, convict them. Every case depends upon its own facts, but circumstances arise where a client chooses to plead guilty in circumstances not previously remotely contemplated.

Preparing for a ‘Guilty Plea’ and collating detailed evidence to support a Basis of Plea and convincing mitigation material for a Sentencing Hearing requires equal amounts of skill, dedication and determination as that required when preparing a defence for Trial.

Where a Jury convicts, much detailed work is frequently required ahead of a Sentencing Hearing to mitigate a client’s position as much as possible and to achieve the best available outcome.

The Team at KANGS would be delighted to assist you and we welcome enquiries by:

Telephone: 0330 370 4333

Email: info@kangssolicitors.co.uk

Hamraj Kang

Hamraj Kang
Senior Partner

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Sukhdip Randhawa

Sukhdip Randhawa
Legal Director

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