Area of Law – Sentencing

An Article about Plea of guilty in criminal case

Plea of guilty
A Court must take into account a plea of guilty Sentencing Act s 5(2)(e)

The public policy reasons for that are, that it is important for the smooth running of the justice system that people plead guilty and do not contest cases.

A plea that is indicated early, is also of importance as it can save the witnesses and the authorities considerable effort.

Some of the reasons that a plea of guilty should be given weight are contained in the case law:
‘The contributors to the joint judgment in Cameron v. The Queen made clear that the weight to be attributed to a plea of guilty is determined by the –

” … extent [to which] the plea is indicative of remorse, acceptance of responsibility and willingness to facilitate the course of justice. And a significant consideration on that issue is whether the plea was entered at the first reasonable opportunity.”[1]

It must also be borne in mind that, as Coldrey, A.J.A. said in the matter of Ly, Tat and Dao:

” … it is an important policy consideration in the administration of justice that defendants not only receive appropriate credit for pleas of guilty but that they appear to receive credit for such pleas. Pragmatically barristers have to be able to assure those they represent that the benefit pronounced by a sentencing judge is not illusory but is reflected in the actual sentence imposed.”[2]

R v White [2005] VSCA 186 (19 July 2005)


Date: 09/01/2009