Early guilty pleas rise, but delays remain
The take-up of early guilty pleas for criminal offences in NSW spiked after reforms designed to reduce court delays.
The 2018 reforms - designed to reduce NSW District Court delays - sought to incentivise early guilty pleas by increasing negotiation between the defence and prosecution, as well as continuity of legal representation.
It also involved certifying charges earlier in the legal process and providing sentencing discounts when early guilty pleas are made.
The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics and Research on Tuesday said early guilty pleas after 2018 jumped by 6.5 percentage points to 76.5 per cent.
The 2018 reforms helped the NSW District Court finalise at least seven additional matters each week.
However, the study found that a reduction in case processing time in the District Court was offset by an increase of time spent in the Local Court.
As such, cases were not resolved faster overall.
Furthermore, more than two thirds of interviewed stakeholders in the early guilty plea system - including police, prosecutors and lawyers - said the certification of charges and submission of evidence briefs remain delayed.
Continuity of legal representation was also not certain.
"Stakeholders have identified a number of areas where refinements could be made to the (early appropriate guilty plea) model in order to maximise their benefits," BOCSAR director Suzanne Poyton said in a statement.
Get the latest news from thewest.com.au in your inbox.
Sign up for our emails