Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Credit for early guilty pleas...

I fail to see how anyone, other than those who stand to lose out financially, (of whom more in due course), could disagree with Lord Justice Leveson when he suggests that suspects who admit their guilt at the earliest opportunity - i.e. whilst being interviewed at a police station - should receive a more significant discount on their eventual sentence than those who admit their guilt later in the process.

Doesn't such an admission at least suggest a degree of genuine contrition on behalf of the offender, rather than the confected version put forward on their behalf by a lawyer who has convinced his client to plead guilty because of the overwhelming weight of the evidence against him (or her)?

And shouldn't that genuine contrition, or remorse; whatever you want to call it, be rewarded in a real and tangible fashion?

I think that it most certainly should.

But then, as the article goes on to say, there are other eminent voices, such as Paul Mendelle QC, the Chairman of the Bar Council, who are vehemently opposed to the very idea.

Call me cynical, but I suspect that there may be just the slightest hint of self interest lying behind his remarks; because more early guilty pleas and fewer Crown Court trials would mean less business (money, to be vulgar) for him and his colleagues at the Bar.

And that aside, remember this: in the vast majority of cases, those under arrest on suspicion of committing a crime know full well whether they are guilty or not when they are sitting in the interview room and it is disingenuous in the extreme to pretend otherwise.

For those who are genuinely innocent of the accusation they face, or for those tiny few who simply cannot remember whether they are or not, due process of law, backed up by the all-important presumption of innocence is there to protect them.

I can't see a downside to this.

There again, I'm not a defence lawyer with one eye on a potentially shrinking practise...

No comments: