4. What are the effects on the level of sentence if the accused pleaded guilty?
A plea of guilty is a significant mitigating factor, as it may reflect the remorse of the accused and save the trouble and expenses of a trial. The court may take into account the guilty plea when deciding whether or not an imprisonment sentence should be imposed on the accused. If it is appropriate to sentence the accused to imprisonment, then usually the court will give a one-third discount to the length of imprisonment (e.g. an original sentence of 3 years imprisonment will become two years) if the accused pleads guilty at the earliest reasonable opportunity (e.g. at the first hearing or well in advance of the trial) . Lesser discounts may be given if the accused pleads guilty after the trial has begun. But all such discounts are at the discretion of the judge .