eCite Digital Repository

'Guilty, Your Honourí: Recent legislative developments on the guilty plea discount and an Australian Capital Territory case study on its operation


Wren, E and Bartels, L, 'Guilty, Your Honour': Recent legislative developments on the guilty plea discount and an Australian Capital Territory case study on its operation, Adelaide Law Review, 35 pp. 361-384. ISSN 0065-1915 (2014) [Refereed Article]

Not available

Copyright Statement

© Copyright is vested in the Association and, in relation to each article, in its author, 2014.

Official URL:


The overwhelming majority of defendants in Australian criminal courts plead guilty and most Australian jurisdictions include a guilty plea in their sentencing legislation as a mitigating factor. However, the application of this reduction varies significantly. In an attempt to provide a better understanding of this aspect of sentencing, this article examines the legislation and case law on guilty pleas, with a particular focus on the Australian Capital Territory. The article contextualises this discussion by examining the High Courtís position on sentence reductions for guilty pleas, as well as the New South Wales Court of Criminal Appealís guideline judgment in R v Thomson; R v Houlton (2000) 49 NSWLR 383. Recent key legislative amendments in relation to quantifying guilty pleas are then discussed, revealing the often subtle but meaningful differences in the legislation across Australia. This is followed by a case study analysis of 300 recent cases in the Australian Capital Territory Supreme Court, which provides important insight into the practical operation of the discount in a jurisdiction that has traditionally seen little sentencing research. The article concludes with some observations on future directions for policy and practice.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Research Division:Law and Legal Studies
Research Group:Law in context
Research Field:Criminal law
Objective Division:Expanding Knowledge
Objective Group:Expanding knowledge
Objective Field:Expanding knowledge in law and legal studies
UTAS Author:Bartels, L (Ms Lorana Bartels)
ID Code:105502
Year Published:2014
Deposited By:Faculty of Law
Deposited On:2016-01-06
Last Modified:2016-07-28

Repository Staff Only: item control page