If you did not accept a ‘Fixed Penalty’ when offered you will be taken to the court and you will be subjected to the court procedures. If you have been stopped by the roadside for any offence the police officers may verbally inform you that you will be charged with the offence. In either of these scenarios you may receive a set of documents titled ‘Single Justice Procedure Notice’ through the post.
The police are required to lay the information relating to the offence with the Magistrates court within 6 months of the date of the offence. If it is issued out of time you may be in a position to challenge the validity of the SJPN. If the information is laid before the court within the period and the court delays issuing the proceedings it will not be a valid reason to challenge the SJPN. This is a complex area and you may want to get advice from a motoring solicitor.
You normally have 21 days to respond to the SJPN. It is important that you return the notice in good time within the 21 days.
Once the SJPN is completed and sent to the court referred to in the documents, it will be considered by a single magistrate in their office.
SJPN requires you to submit a ‘guilty plea’, ‘guilty plea at court’ or a ‘not guilty plea’. If you submit a guilty plea it needs to be accompanied by the completed means form. The single justice will consider the case and issue a fine and points on your licence. If you are asked to plead guilty at court you will be given a hearing date when you may attend the court and plead in mitigation. If you pleaded not guilty you will be summoned to attend court for the trial.
It is in your interest to seek advice from a traffic solicitor on receipt of the SJPN. Although you may consider your case as quite straight forward, the law relating to traffic cases is quite complex. We do not advise anyone to plead guilty unless it is a clear case for a guilty plea. It is best to decide on your plea when you have received the prosecution documents.
If you have any doubts about the alleged offence or you strongly believe that you should not be held responsible for the offence, for reasons that you will need to produce as evidence, you should seek advice from a motoring solicitor as soon as you receive the Single Justice Procedure Notice.
If you have already sent the SJPN to the magistrate’s court with your ‘not guilty’ plea and are waiting for a hearing date, it is a good time to instruct a solicitor who can advise you and represent you at the trial hearing. If you have stated that you wish to plead ‘guilty at court’ it is in your interest to be represented by Counsel who can assist you to plead in mitigation, submit a special reasons argument or an exceptional hardship argument to save your licence!
If you wish to seek advice relating to your pleas, call our motoring solicitors on 0208 577 5491 to see how we may help you.