When imposing a sentence following a guilty plea, the court must take into account the stage at which an intention to plead guilty was indicated and the circumstances in which that indication was given.
If the guilty plea is entered at the first reasonable opportunity, a reduction of one third should be given. The first reasonable opportunity to enter such plea would usually be at the defendant’s first appearance before the court. However, for indictable only offences, it may be that the court considers the first reasonable opportunity may have been at the police station.
Pleas at later stages in the proceedings may be given credit on a reducing scale, for example, up to one tenth reduction should be available for guilty pleas entered during trial.
The court also has discretion to reduce a defendant’s sentence where:
- they entered a guilty plea
- they are sentenced in the Crown Court; and
- they have, pursuant to a written agreement with a specified prosecutor, assisted or offered to assist the investigator or prosecutor in relation to that or any other offence
When passing sentence, the court may take into account the extent and the nature of the assistance given or offered. It is for the court to decide what level of sentence reduction to apply, but the normal level of reduction is somewhere between one half and two thirds (R v P; R v Blackburn  EWCA Crim 2290).