Project Details
Funding Scheme : General Research Fund
Project Number : 14609918
Project Title(English) : An Empirical Investigation of the Sliding Scale of Sentence Discounts for Guilty Pleas in Hong Kong 
Project Title(Chinese) : 香港刑期折扣遞減比率下承認控罪的實證研究 
Principal Investigator(English) : Dr Cheng, Kevin Kwok Yin 
Principal Investigator(Chinese) : 鄭國賢 
Department : Faculty of Law
Institution : The Chinese University of Hong Kong
Co - Investigator(s) :
Prof Chui, Eric Wing Hong
Dr ONG, Rebecca Yoke Chan
Prof Young, Simon
Panel : Humanities, Social Sciences
Subject Area : Social and Behavioural Sciences
Exercise Year : 2018 / 19
Fund Approved : 421,500
Project Status : On-going
Completion Date : 31-12-2021
Abstract as per original application
The plea and the sentence are two of the most important, if not the two most important, aspects of the criminal justice process. The aim of the study is to investigate the impact of the timing of guilty pleas on court sentencing under Hong Kong’s new sentencing framework for guilty pleas. This study builds on the PI’s previous work on late guilty pleas. Previously in Hong Kong, a one-third general sentence discount was given by the court regardless of when the plea was entered until the start of trial. This fundamentally changed with the new sentencing guidelines – the sliding scale of sentence discounts – introduced in September 2016. Now the court must consider the stage at which the guilty plea was entered. Nonetheless, the law still provides judges with flexibility to depart from the guidelines. Previous studies in other jurisdictions have found that sentence reductions are dependent on other variables such as the defendant’s demographic characteristics and criminal record. Therefore, it would be incorrect to simply presume that all criminal cases correspond exactly to the sentence discounts recommended by the sliding scale guidelines and more in-depth research on this is vitally needed. The purpose of the study is to determine the potential effects the stage of guilty plea has on the criminal sentences in Hong Kong and whether the impact of sentence reductions differs for different offences and defendants. The study also seeks to ascertain whether judges depart from the recommended reductions, and if so, under what situations would they do so. A quantitative methodology will be adopted. Using the “Reasons for Sentence” in court cases provided by the Hong Kong Judiciary, a series of variables affecting sentencing will be codified, including the stage when the guilty plea was entered or if the defendant was convicted after trial. The empirical data will then be subjected to statistical analyses. Despite the significance of sentencing and the attention that it often draws from the media and the public, there is a dearth of research on sentencing in Hong Kong especially from an empirical perspective. This study will help to identify what impact the timing of guilty pleas has on sentence outcomes under the new sentencing regime along with other variables that may influence sentencing in Hong Kong. This study will show how the new sliding scale of sentence discounts works in practice and provide useful findings for researchers and practitioners.
認罪及判決是刑事司法程序中最重要的兩個方面。這項研究的目的是調查香港在新的判刑框架下,認罪的時間對法庭判決的影響。這項研究建基於首席調查員早前關於遲延認罪的工作上。 以往在香港,無論在審判開始之前何時認罪,法院都給予三分之一的一般刑期折扣。2016年9月引入的新的量刑指南從根本上改變了這情況 – 即刑期折扣遞減比率。 現在法院必須考量表示認罪的階段。儘管如此,法律仍然為法官提供了可不同與準則的靈活性。之前在其他司法管轄區的研究發現,減刑取決於其他變量因素,例如被告的背景特徵和犯罪記錄。因此,簡單地假定所有刑事案件的判決須跟從刑期折扣遞減指引是不正確。故此,須對此進行更深入的研究。 本研究的目的是考量認罪階段對香港刑事判決的潛在影響,以及減刑幅度會否因罪行及被告的不同而有所不同。本研究還試圖研究法官是否偏離建議的減刑幅度,如果是,他們將在何種情況下這樣做。本研究會採用定量方法。當採用香港司法機構提供“判刑理由“時, 將會數據化一系列影響判刑的可變因素,包括認罪的階段或被告是否在審訊後被定罪,然後對數據進行統計分析。儘管判刑的重要性經常引起媒體和公眾的關注,但在香港判刑方面的研究卻相當缺乏,特別是從實證的角度的研究。本研究將有助於了解香港在新的判刑制度下,認罪請求的時間對判決結果的影響,以及可能影響判刑的其他變量因素。本研究將說明新的刑期折扣遞減比率如何在實踐中發揮作用,並為研究人員和從業人員提供有用的結論。
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