What should you do next?
How should you plead, ‘Guilty’ or ‘Not Guilty’?
If you are accused of a relatively straightforward offence, such as speeding, you may know the answer. But, if you are accused of an offence which involves an understanding of how the law is applied to the facts of the case, for example, driving without due care and attention, your decision may not be straightforward. Often motorists feel aggrieved that they are being prosecuted. This is not the same thing as having a valid defence in law. Before you enter a ‘not guilty’ plea you should ensure that you fully understand the implications. Contesting a case which should have been admitted usually results in a harsher penalty at the end as well as having to pay increased prosecution costs. So, if you don’t fully understand all of the implications take legal advice before you complete the Notice.
If you decide to admit the offence you have a choice of either stating you wish to attend court for your sentencing or not. Usually, motorists who state they wish to attend know that they are at risk of disqualification and wish to argue against it. If you expect to attend court there can be little to gain from completing the optional mitigation section (as you intend to attend court anyway and so your mitigation can be expressed in person). Certainly, if you are hoping to avoid a ban and intend to instruct a lawyer to represent you at court it may be unwise to complete the mitigation section as this could limit the scope your lawyer will have when he presents your case.
If you plead ‘Guilty’ and state you do not wish to attend court beware you may yet receive a Notice requiring you to attend. This would probably be because the court is considering disqualifying you from driving either because of the gravity of the offence or because of the tally of penalty points on your driving licence. If you are at risk of a penalty points disqualification this means that you may well receive a ban of at least 6 months. For many people a driving disqualification would be nothing short of a catastrophe. Often it will mean loss of job and livelihood. At the very least it will mean great inconvenience and, potentially, increased insurance premiums (possibly for years to come).
If your driving licence is at risk you may think it prudent to obtain legal advice before you complete the Notice. We sometimes find that clients contact us after having done so without fully understanding the implications of their actions. This can be costly in more way than one.
If you are unsure as to how best to complete a Single Justice Procedural Notice don’t guess – as you could be committing yourself to the wrong course of action. After all, your driving licence could be at stake.