False Guilty Pleas and Miscarriages of Justice: A Review of Australian Criminal Appeals Against Guilty Plea Convictions

Mrs Lisa Parker1

1University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia

This presentation discusses the findings from a study of Australian criminal appeals against guilty plea convictions. This study comprises an analysis of over 230 appellate court decisions where a conviction following a guilty plea has been challenged on the basis that miscarriage of justice has occurred. The aim of this inquiry is to better understand the prevalence and causes of miscarriages of justice arising from guilty pleas (or ‘false guilty pleas’) in Australia.

While Australian appellate courts have traditionally approached attempts to set aside a plea of guilty with ‘caution bordering on circumspection’, this presentation will show that the number of appeals against guilty plea convictions has increased substantially over the last twenty years, as have appeal success rates. This presentation outlines the number of people who have successfully set aside their guilty plea conviction on appeal as well as providing an insight into the underlying causes and circumstances which have led to the entry of impugned guilty pleas. This presentation concludes by considering the effectiveness and limitations of appellate review in identifying and correcting false guilty pleas in Australia.


Lisa Parker is a Lecturer and PhD candidate with the School of Law at the University of South Australia. Her doctoral research examines the legitimacy of the early guilty plea in Australian criminal justice, including its implications for principles of criminal procedure and sentencing.


The society is devoted to promoting criminological study, research and practice in the region and bringing together persons engaged in all aspects of the field. The membership of the society reflects the diversity of persons involved in the field, including practitioners, academics, policy makers and students.

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