On 2 November 2020, the sentencing discount regime in South Australia changed by the commencement of Statutes Amendment (Sentencing) Act 2020 (No. 35 of 2020).  

Prior to the change, there were two ‘streams’ of sentencing discounts applicable to all criminal  matters in South Australia; one for summary and minor indictable matters, and one for major  indictable matters. This was based on the timing of a guilty plea or cooperation with procedural  requirements. Both ‘streams’ of this ‘old’ scheme started at a discount of 40% for a guilty plea  within the first four weeks of appearing in Court, down to a 10% discount for a guilty plea near  the commencement of trial.

This ‘new’ scheme of discounts applies to all guilty pleas entered on or after 2 November 2020.

Summary and minor indictable offences dealt with summarily (section 39 of the Act)

This discount scheme is now as follows:

1. 40% for a guilty plea entered in the first four weeks (s 39(2)(a));

a. This maximum may remain available for a further two weeks (that is, up to six weeks) if the defendant could not obtain legal advice within the first four weeks due to:

i. Residing in a remote location;

ii. Leading an itinerant lifestyle; or

iii. Not speaking reasonably fluent English.

2. 30% for a guilty plea entered after the first four weeks but before four weeks prior to trial (s 39(2)(b));

3. 30% for a guilty plea in the period of four weeks before trial IF the defendant could not reasonably have pleaded guilty earlier due to circumstances outside the defendant’s control (s 39(2)(c));

4. Otherwise, up to 10% (s 39(2)(d)).

Serious (major) indictable offences (section 40 of the Act)

This discount regime is as follows:

1. 25% for a guilty plea entered in the first four weeks (s 40(3)(a));

a. This maximum may remain available for a further two weeks (that is, up to six weeks) if the defendant could not obtain legal advice within the first four weeks due to:

i. Residing in a remote location;

ii. Leading an itinerant lifestyle; or

iii. Not speaking reasonably fluent English.

2. 15% for a guilty plea entered after the first four weeks but before the committal appearance (s 40(3)(b));

3. 10% for a guilty plea entered after the committal appearance but before answering the charge (s 40(3)(c));

4. 5% for a guilty plea entered after answering the charge but before the date first set for arraignment (s 40(3)(d));

5. 5% for a guilty plea entered after arraignment but before trial IF there is good reason to do so (s 40(3)(e)).

‘Serious indictable offences’ include the following:

  1. Murder;
  2. Manslaughter;
  3. Assisting suicide;
  4. Causing death by dangerous driving;
  5. Leaving the scene after causing death by driving;
  6. Causing serious harm;
  7. Acts to endanger life;
  8. Acts likely to cause harm;
  9. Shooting at police causing harm;
  10. Possession of an object with the intent to kill;
  11. Criminal neglect causing serious harm or death;
  12. Causing harm by dangerous driving where serious harm is caused;
  13. Leaving the scene after causing harm by driving where serious harm is caused;
  14. Rape;
  15. Compelled sexual manipulation;
  16. Unlawful sexual intercourse;
  17. Maintaining an unlawful sexual relationship with a child;
  18. Sexual exploitation of a person with cognitive impairment;
  19. Indecent assault;
  20. Gross indecency;
  21. Abduction;
  22. Procuring sexual intercourse;
  23. Production or dissemination of child exploitation material;
  24. Procuring a child;
  25. Sexual servitude;
  26. Deceptive recruiting for commercial sexual services;
  27. Use of children in commercial sexual services;
  28. Incest;
  29. An attempt to commit any of the above.

Other (major) indictable offences (section 40 of the Act)

This discount regime is as follows:

1. 35% for a guilty plea entered in the first four weeks (s 40(3)(a));

a. This maximum may remain available for a further two weeks (that is, up to six weeks) if the defendant could not obtain legal advice within the first four weeks due to:

i. Residing in a remote location;

ii. Leading an itinerant lifestyle; or

iii. Not speaking reasonably fluent English.

2. 25% for a guilty plea entered after the first four weeks but before the committal appearance (s 40(3)(b));

3. 15% for a guilty plea entered after the committal appearance but before answering the charge (s 40(3)(c));

4. 10% for a guilty plea entered after answering the charge but before the date first set for arraignment (s 40(3)(d));

5. 5% for a guilty plea entered after arraignment but before trial IF there is good reason to do so (s 40(3)(e)).

This scheme relates to offences which do not fall within section 39 of the Act (summary and minor indictable offences dealt with summarily) or the ‘serious indictable offences’ category.

Should you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact our office.

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