Edward received a Notice of Intended Prosecution advising him that consideration was being given to prosecuting the driver of a vehicle registered in his name for Dangerous Driving, Careless Driving and Failing to Stop or Report following a road traffic collision. He also received a Notice requiring him, as the registered keeper of the vehicle in question, to supply the driver’s name and address. His wife had been the driver at the time, and, as anyone would be, they were very concerned that she could be prosecuted and convicted of criminal offences. However, in compliance with his legal duty he intended to complete the form admitting his wife had been the driver.
Edward had 28 days to reply. His wife was unaware of having being involved in a collision. The Notice offered him the option of setting out a written account of events stating,
‘This will assist us in deciding on the appropriate course of action’.
Edward had the choice of leaving this part of the form blank or giving a written account. If his wife admitted that she was unaware of being involved in an incident would this mean she could be prosecuted for driving without due care and attention? He was unsure of how to proceed.
Various questions troubled Edward:-
• What was the law relating to each of the offences listed?
• What evidence did the police have?
• How do the Police determine such cases?
• Could he make his situation worse rather than better by giving an account, for example, by inadvertently making ‘admissions’ which the police might rely on. (This is why lawyers often advise clients to make ‘no comment’ in police interviews ie for fear of making admissions that the police then rely upon in the case against the motorist.)
• But, if no account was provided would this encourage the police to prosecute?
• Edward simply did not know how best to proceed.
What Edward did next
He engaged Kent Traffic Law to assist him with how best to respond (with the option of engaging us to represent him in court in due course should the need arise). Having given a detailed account of the incident to us we advised him of the law as it applied to the facts described. Based on 25 years of experience of police and CPS procedure we suggested a draft response (any such response must be entirely true to the account supplied by the client but, crucially, how matters are expressed and which factors are included is, in our experience, of the utmost importance).
Within a few weeks of sending off this response the police wrote to Edward’s wife advising they proposed to take no further action in this matter! Edward was kind enough to comment,
‘My wife was really upset about the prospect and consequences of a prosecution. By helping us set out an account based on your experience of law and procedure in this field you helped us avoid a prosecution altogether. We surely would not have been successful in this without you. Thank you.’
Most of us will never have received a Notice of Intended Prosecution. Consequently, we don’t know how best to respond. Should we supply an account (when we don’t know the relevant law or legal procedure being applied by the police)? Nor do we understand the legal elements of the offences under consideration or in what circumstances the police are likely to exercise discretion either to prosecute or not to prosecute. We could unwittingly actually increase the prospects of prosecution by supplying an account! In such circumstances, you may think that by engaging an expert you will optimise your chances of a positive outcome.
We regularly advise clients on how to respond to such Notices. Of course, there are no guarantees and each case turns on its own facts, however, by engaging expert help at the outset it may be possible to exert an influence over proceedings to bring them to an early end (which may not be possible once they are started). If by doing so you manage to avoid the stress and costs of a drawn-out prosecution along with the risks of a harsh sentence at the end it may be the most cost-effective decision you can possibly make.