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Crown Courts
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Subject Topic: Early Guilty Plea Scheme Post ReplyPost New Topic
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Gavin
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Posted: 30 May 2012 at 12:07 | IP Logged Quote Gavin

The scheme operating in my local area must simply be a "quirky local practice".
 
We specifically get the Client's to enter no plea and say that the case is suitable for an expedited hearing so that we preserve our fees and do not get a committal for sentence fee, and that the expedited hearing is listed early without the CPS having to prepare committal bundles and other burdensome paperwork if pleas can be agreed on the admissions or papers already made/served.
 
Our local system requires the CPS to agree to the case being dealt with as an expedited case - the case must also be deemed to be unsuitable to be sentenced in the Magistrates Court.


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emailtimw
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Posted: 30 May 2012 at 13:31 | IP Logged Quote emailtimw

it's very easy to get too caught up in the timing of a gplea. probably more important in my view is the substance of both the basis of plea and the charges themselves.

5-10% credit (usually theoretical anyway) can be as nothing if a significant charge can be reduced or dropped. the mags is a bear pit compared to the cc, and it is really not ideal to try to negotiate a basis or change of charge there.

if your client pleads guilty in the mags with no basis signed by both sides then it is simply too late to haggle one once you get to cc. the judge will have to sentence on pros facts. likewise it will also be too late to reduce or drop a matter.

even if you're negotiations are unsuccessful, yopu can still ask for full credit on the basis that client took it to cc on advice for you to negotiate in good faith in the interests of client. judge can blame you (he won't), but may well not blame client.

also, it can be risky to plead guilty without a full file if there be gaps in case. there may be something you can use to strongarm the crown. maybe even a trial.

the judge mentioned above who said he'd give 40%, he probably would. there is nothing to prevent a cc judge giving a higher level of credit if he sees fit and justifies it. even if he didn't want to do it overtly, he could adjust his starting point. i'm currently involved in a case where the judge has openly given 50% for quite a late gplea.

generally, my view is that if a case is giong to cc for sentence anyway, there is little or nothing to be lost (and much to potentially gain) from a plea at first cc appearance rather than mags.


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Atticus
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Posted: 30 May 2012 at 18:27 | IP Logged Quote Atticus

This is what we have in Liverpool Crown Court:



LIVERPOOL CROWN COURT

REVISED PRACTICE DIRECTION


ISSUED BY HH JUDGE GLOBE QC, HONORARY RECORDER OF
LIVERPOOL


(Effective from 01.03.10)
(Revised to clarify issues in relation to the basis of a plea
and the reduction in sentence for guilty pleas in
“Early Guilty Plea Hearings”)



A. CASES SENT TO THE CROWN COURT UNDER S.51 OF CDA
1998


Preliminary Hearings – Directions by Magistrates

Upon sending a case to Liverpool Crown Court, Magistrates
will direct that within 14-21 days there shall be a Preliminary
Hearing (PH) in the following cases:
Where there are case management issues which call for such
a hearing, and/or where it would be desirable to set an early
trial date; such cases will include
Class 1 cases;
Class 2 cases;
Domestic violence cases;
Death by driving cases;
Cases likely to last for more than 4 weeks;
The defendant, or one of the defendants, is a child or young
person;
The defendant indicates an intention to plead guilty;
Where it is suitable for a preparatory hearing at the crown
court

In all other cases that are sent to Liverpool Crown Court,
Magistrates will direct that a Plea and Case Management
Hearing (PCMH) shall take place within 14 weeks (if the
defendant, or any one of the defendants, is in custody) or
within 17 weeks (if no defendant is in custody).

Upon sending any case to Liverpool Crown Court, Magistrates
will issue directions and use the standard forms in Annex E of
the amended CCPD.


Preliminary Hearings – discretionary

A PH may be directed to take place in any other case upon
the direction of myself or a nominated deputy. At least five
working days notice will be given of such a hearing.


Preliminary Hearing Forms

The Crown Court Case Progression Preliminary Hearing Form
in Annex E is the form to be used for all PHs. The guidance
notes apply.






Early Guilty Plea Hearings

Subject to the provisions of this paragraph, at any stage
prior to the PCMH in a case which has been sent to Liverpool
Crown Court, any party may request the court to list the case
for a “Early Guilty Plea Hearing”. Upon such request being
made, the case shall be listed for hearing 15 working days
after the date of the receipt of the request, and the
procedure for the hearing will be as set out below in
paragraph E.

The request shall be made by e-mail to
Liverpool.cmb.crown.caseprogression@hmcourts-
service.gsi.gov.uk

At the same time as the request is made, notification of the
request shall be given to all other parties in the case. The
notification shall preferably be given by e-mail, the
particulars of which will be available from the standard
Magistrates’ Automatic Directions Form provided to the
parties at the time of sending the case to the Crown Court.
Alternatively, the notification may be faxed to the other
parties. It should not be sent by post or the DX system which
will delay its receipt.

In relation to a request by the defence

Notification to the prosecution shall include details of the
offence(s) in respect of which the defendant intends to plead
guilty and of any basis of plea(s).

At the same time, notification shall be given to the probation
service by e-mail or fax and it shall include details of the
offence(s) in respect of which the defendant intends to plead
guilty and of any basis of plea(s) and of the defendant’s
current address and telephone number(s).    

Within five working days of receipt of the basis of plea(s) the
prosecution shall notify the defence and the probation
service whether the basis of plea(s) is accepted by the
prosecution.

In relation to a request by the prosecution:

The prosecution shall only be entitled to request such a
hearing if the papers, draft indictment and primary disclosure
have been served, and the date of such service is stated in
the e-mail requesting the hearing.

Following receipt of a prosecution request, any defendant
who intends to plead guilty shall forthwith give notice of the
intention to all other parties in the case. The notice to the
prosecution and the probation service shall include details of
the offence(s) in respect of which the defendant intends to
plead guilty and of any basis of plea(s). The notice to the
probation service additionally shall include details of the
defendant’s current address and telephone number(s).
Within five working days of receipt of the basis of plea(s) the
prosecution shall notify the defence and the probation
service whether the basis of plea(s) is accepted by the
prosecution.

At any time up to two working days before the date of the
hearing, the defence may serve notice on the prosecution
and the court to vacate the hearing, and the hearing will be
vacated, if the notice includes:

confirmation that the defendant has provided instructions
that will result in a not guilty plea, and details of the defence
witness requirements; or

details of some other good reason satisfactory to the court.



B. CASES COMMITTED TO THE CROWN COURT UNDER S.6 OF
THE MCA 1980

Subject to sub-paragraph 4, upon committing for trial,
Magistrates will direct that a PH as above should take place
in the following cases:
Domestic violence cases;
Death by driving cases;
The defendant, or one of the defendants, is a child or young
person;
There is likely to be a guilty plea and the defendant could be
sentenced at the PH;

Subject to sub-paragraph 4, in all other cases that are
committed to Liverpool Crown Court, Magistrates will direct
that a PCMH should take place within 7 weeks.

Subject to sub-paragraph 4, upon committing any case to
Liverpool Crown Court, Magistrates will issue directions and
use the standard forms in Annex E of the amended CCPD.

In any case committed to Liverpool Crown Court, where the
defence have had at least 14 days prior to committal to
consider the committal papers, and the CPS or the defence
has identified the case as a likely guilty plea and request the
Magistrates to fix an “Early Guilty Plea Hearing” at the Crown
Court,
The Magistrates shall fix a date for an “Early Guilty Plea
Hearing” at the Crown Court. The date for such a hearing
shall be 15 working days after the date of committal, and the
procedure at the hearing will be as set out below in
paragraph E.
In addition to fixing such a date, the Magistrates will also fix
a date for a PCMH and issue directions as above.
In relation to a request by the defence, notification shall
forthwith be given by the defence to the probation service at
the Magistrates’ Court, or immediately thereafter by e-mail
or fax, and shall include details of the offence(s) in respect of
which the defendant intends to plead guilty and of any basis
of plea(s) and of the defendant’s current address and
telephone number(s). Within five working days of receipt of
the basis of plea(s) the prosecution shall notify the defence
and the probation service whether the basis of plea(s) is
accepted by the prosecution.
In relation to a request by the prosecution
Any defendant who intends to plead guilty shall forthwith give
notice of the intention to all other parties in the case. The
notice to the prosecution and the probation service shall
include details of the offence(s) in respect of which the
defendant intends to plead guilty and of any basis of plea(s).
The notice to the probation service additionally shall include
details of the defendant’s current address and telephone
number(s). Within five working days of receipt of the basis
of plea(s) the prosecution shall notify the defence and the
probation service whether the basis of plea(s) is accepted by
the prosecution.
At any time up to two working days before the date of the
hearing, the defence may serve notice on the prosecution
and the court to vacate the hearing, and the hearing will be
vacated, if the notice includes:
confirmation that the defendant has provided instructions
that will result in a not guilty plea, and details of the defence
witness requirements; or
details of some other good reason satisfactory to the court.

C. PROVISIONAL TRIAL DATES FOR CASES SENT OR
COMMITTED AFTER 04.07.05

Immediately upon any case being sent or committed to
Liverpool Crown Court for trial, the crown court will allocate
a court number to the case and a provisional period for the
case to be tried, and will notify the parties of these details.
Save for exceptional reasons, the trial shall not take place
after the allocated period.

D. AUTOMATIC DIRECTIONS

All applications to extend time, when applicable, must be
made in writing and on notice, and shall include the grounds
upon which the application is based.

Specific witness requirements shall be notified to the
prosecution as directed so that their availability can be
checked. This shall not be circumvented by unreasonable
requirements for all witnesses to attend.


E. EARLY GUILTY PLEA HEARINGS


The aim and objective of an “Early Guilty Plea Hearing” is for
a defendant to plead guilty in the Crown Court at the first
reasonable opportunity and at the same time to be
sentenced.

A defendant who indicates an intention to plead guilty at the
hearing will be arraigned.

A defendant who indicates an intention to plead not guilty at
the hearing will not be arraigned and the case will be
adjourned to the date already fixed for the PCMH. No
provisional trial date will be set because the prosecution will
not have obtained witness availability dates.

Any defendant who does not plead guilty at the hearing, and
pleads guilty at a later hearing, will not be afforded
maximum credit for that guilty plea unless a successful
submission is made that the “Early Guilty Plea Hearing” was
not the first reasonable opportunity for the defendant to have
pleaded guilty.

In applying the Sentencing Guidelines Council Definitive
Guideline for “Reduction in Sentence For A Guilty Plea”, by
reason of the fact that the “Early Guilty Plea” scheme is now
in existence, the following principles will apply:

In relation to all offences (sent or committed) there will be a
presumption that the first reasonable opportunity to enter a
guilty plea and to obtain a one-third reduction in sentence
will be at an “Early Guilty Plea Hearing”, and that there will
be a smaller reduction thereafter, namely a one-quarter
reduction at the PCMH, less than a one-quarter reduction
thereafter, and a one-tenth reduction when a guilty plea is
entered at the door of the court or after a trial has begun.

In relation to all offences (sent or committed) the
presumption referred to in paragraph 5.a above will be
subject to

The Court being satisfied that the defendant (and any legal
adviser) has had sufficient information about the allegations;

Paragraphs 5.2 – 5.5 of the Guideline (the recommended
one-third reduction being reduced to a recommended
reduction of 20% where the prosecution case is
overwhelming);

Paragraph 3(b) of Annex 1 of the Guideline (the Court may
consider that, in circumstances where the defendant [and
any legal adviser]would have had sufficient information
about the allegations, it would be reasonable to have
expected an indication of willingness to plead guilty even
earlier, perhaps whilst under interview);

In relation to an offence triable either way which is
committed to the Crown Court for trial, the presumption
referred to in paragraph 5.a above will also be subject to
paragraph 3(c) of Annex 1 of the Guideline (recommended
reduction at the first hearing in the Crown Court of one-third
being reduced to 30% if no plea is indicated at the
Magistrates’ Court). For the avoidance of doubt, to obtain the
maximum reduction a defendant must request the
Magistrates’ Court to fix an “Early Guilty Plea Hearing” at the
Crown Court or agree with the prosecution request for such a
hearing by indicating that a guilty plea will be entered at such
a hearing.

In relation to an offence which is triable only on indictment
which is sent to the Crown Court for trial, the presumption
referred to in paragraph 5.a above will also be subject to
paragraph 3(d) of Annex 1 of the Guideline (it may well be
that the first reasonable opportunity would have been during
the police station stage; where that is not the case, the first
reasonable opportunity is likely to be at the first hearing in
the Crown Court).



F. PLEA AND CASE MANAGEMENT HEARINGS AS FROM
02.07.07

PCMHs will continue to be listed at 10.30, 11.45, and 2.15 to
enable detailed discussions to take place and to enable the
judge to go through the form with the advocates question by
question.

The PCMH form to be used shall be the new one in Annex E
of the amended CCPD. The guidance notes apply. At least
two clear working days before the PCMH, the prosecution
must deliver their completed part of the form to the defence
(by e-mail or otherwise) and to the court (via e-mail to
Liverpool.cmb.crown.caseprogression@hmcourts-
service.gsi.gov.uk.). The defence must complete their part
of the form and deliver it to the prosecution in time for the
prosecutor to add to the form if necessary. The final form
must be handed to the judge no later than the
commencement of the PCMH.

All reasonable applications to adjourn the date or time of a
PCMH to enable it to be an effective hearing will be
favourably considered. Applications must be made in writing
on notice and as soon as possible after the case has been
sent or committed. The later the application is made, the less
likely it will be to succeed. Only exceptionally will a PCMH be
adjourned for a period in excess of two weeks.

If a trial advocate attends a PCMH the court will attempt, as
far as is reasonably possible having regard to all other
relevant considerations (including the requirements of
timeliness), to fix or warn a case so as to enable the trial
advocate to do the trial.

In any class 1 case, and in any other complex or unusual
case, the prosecution trial advocate shall provide a case
summary in advance of the hearing.

The existing procedure in relation to vulnerable witness trials
shall continue. Unless specifically directed otherwise at the
time of the PCMH, every vulnerable witness trial shall
commence at 2.15 with the first witness to give evidence at
10.30 on day two. Interim review vulnerable witness
hearings will likewise continue to be ordered where
necessary.

The existing Liverpool Crown Court prosecution certificate of
readiness form, and the revised Liverpool Crown Court
defence certificate of readiness form, shall be used. Such
forms must be served on each other and the court no later
than 10 working days prior to the Monday of the trial
commencement week.

F. OTHER HEARINGS

The parties are reminded of CPR 3.5(2(d) and (e), and are
encouraged to make submissions and applications in writing
or electronically in order that issues may be put before a
judge for the consideration of directions being made without
the necessity of a hearing.


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icoed
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Posted: 31 May 2012 at 04:57 | IP Logged Quote icoed

Thanks Atticus. My actual case is in Chester MC which i think goes to Liverpool CC the court for which you provided the guidance.

I don't think there is anything to say that a basis has to be submitted in the Mags but I guess the earlier the better so CPS can consider and hopefully agree at EGP hearing.
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Atticus
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Posted: 31 May 2012 at 16:08 | IP Logged Quote Atticus

Quote: icoed
so CPS can consider and hopefully agree at EGP hearing.


In advance of the EGPH...

"In relation to a request by the defence

Notification to the prosecution shall include details of the
offence(s) in respect of which the defendant intends to plead
guilty and of any basis of plea(s).

At the same time, notification shall be given to the probation
service by e-mail or fax and it shall include details of the
offence(s) in respect of which the defendant intends to plead
guilty and of any basis of plea(s) and of the defendant’s
current address and telephone number(s).    

Within five working days of receipt of the basis of plea(s) the
prosecution shall notify the defence and the probation
service whether the basis of plea(s) is accepted by the
prosecution."


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Andrei A
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Posted: 14 June 2012 at 04:50 | IP Logged Quote Andrei A

 
protocol from Wood Green CC.
 
 
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