This gives guidance on the appropriate level of sentence discounts in cases where the accused has pled guilty.
Nature of the case
This case is about sentencing discounts and what the correct level should be when a person pleads guilty to an offence.
Devonne Du Plooy and three other people appealed against their sentences because they argued that, among other things, not enough allowance had been given for their guilty pleas by the sentencing judges.
The High Court of Justiciary, in dealing with this case, gave guidance about:
- the general rules of when a sentencing judge should take into account the fact that a person has pled guilty
- what form that discount to the sentence should take.
In this case, the High Court decided that:
- When judges are considering the right punishment for a person who pleads guilty, they should take into account that the person is accepting guilt, and not only think about practical benefits (for example saving money by not needing to have a trial).
- The relevant law applies to summary and solemn proceedings equally.
- The relevant factors that a judge can and should take into account include saving public money and court time, avoiding inconvenience to witnesses and, in some cases, avoiding the distress giving evidence can cause witnesses. Judges should take into account situations where offenders are genuinely sorry about what they have done and can show this, for example, by giving new information to help the police or the prosecutor.
- Where judges decided to give a discount, they should say how they arrived at it and by how much the sentence was discounted.
- Any discount for pleading guilty should not normally be more than one-third of the sentence.
Du Plooy v HM Advocate