The existing court process for sexual violence cases
Entry of plea
3.18Under section 37 of the CPA 2011, a defendant may enter a plea of guilty or not guilty before trial, and may be required by the court under section 39 to enter a plea once the court is satisfied that the initial disclosure requirements under the Criminal Disclosure Act 2008 (under which the prosecution must disclose elements of its case against the defendant) have been satisfied.
3.19Before a defendant decides whether to plead guilty or not guilty they may, under section 61 of the CPA 2011, seek a “sentence indication”. A sentence indication is a statement by the court that, if the defendant pleads guilty, the court would or would not impose a sentence of a particular type. The purpose of sentence indications is to give a defendant clarity and certainty about the jeopardy they face if they plead guilty.
3.20If a defendant pleads guilty and a conviction is entered, there will be no trial and the case may proceed to sentence (see “Sentencing and restorative justice” below). A guilty plea may only be withdrawn with the leave of the court, but the court must grant leave if the defendant has received a sentence indication and the judicial officer that gave it proposes to impose a different type or higher sentence than indicated.
3.21If a defendant enters a plea of not guilty, the case will proceed to trial. A number of matters must be dealt with before the trial can take place. These “pre-trial” matters may include an election by a defendant to be tried by jury and pre-trial hearings on matters such as name suppression, bail and admissibility of evidence.