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I've just received a Notice of Intended Prosecution: what now?
Updated 12th July 2018
Why have I received a Notice of Intended Prosecution?
These days you probably won’t be aware at the time that you have been caught committing a motoring offence (such as speeding or going through a red light) as a camera will have filmed you and you would not have been stopped. Most likely, the first time that it will come to your attention is when you receive a letter in the post from the police. Inside the letter you will find a Notice of Intended Prosecution and a form asking you to identify the driver.
What is a Notice of Intended Prosecution?
The Notice of Intended Prosecution notifies you of the allegation that you have accused of. It will tell you the date and time of the alleged offence and the registration number of the vehicle concerned. If you were not stopped at the time of the offence then the Notice of Intended Prosecution must have been sent to either the driver or the registered keeper of the vehicle concerned within 14 days of the offence. If you receive a Notice of Intended Prosecution outside this 14 day period, then you may have a concrete defence.
What is a Section 172 Notice?
If you have not been stopped at the time of the driving offence and you receive a Notice of Intended Prosecution in the post, in the same envelope there will almost certainly be a Section 172 Notice. This Section 172 form will ask you to identify the driver at the time of the alleged offence. It will give you 28 days to reply with the required information. If you don’t return the form duly completed within that time you can be sentenced for failing to give information under Section 172 of the Road Traffic Act 1988 by way of 6 penalty points or a driving ban, as well as still being punished for the original offence. If you were driving the vehicle at the time of the alleged offence then you should complete this form naming yourself as the driver and return it within the time limit. You should send it by Special Delivery to ensure it gets to its destination. Once the police have received your completed form naming yourself, if they believe that the offence was relatively minor, you may then be offered an educational course. For certain offences, the police may offer you a Fixed Penalty. For more serious offences, the police may move straight to court proceedings and you will next receive a Single Justice Procedure Notice in the post.
What is a Single Justice Procedure Notice?
If a Single Justice Procedure Notice is sent to you in the post by the police then you will normally have 21 days to respond to it. In amongst the paperwork, there will be a Plea Form. Here you can say whether you wish to plead guilty but do not wish to attend court, or guilty and do want to attend court, or not guilty.
If you are pleading guilty then you will need to complete a Statement of Means Form showing what your financial circumstances are.
Are there different ways of returning the Single Justice Procedure Notice?
You can complete the Single Justice Procedure Notice and return it in the post, or you can complete it online. However, if you want to return it with any documents (for example, character references or medical certificates) then you will need to send it by post. If you use the post, you should always post it by special delivery so that you can prove that you sent it.
What is the Single Justice Procedure?
If you return the Single Justice Procedure Notice saying that you want to plead guilty but do not want to attend court, then a single magistrate with a trained legal advisor will meet to discuss your case in private. Prosecutors, defence solicitors, defendants, witnesses and police officers are not allowed to be there. The single magistrate may then deal with your case by ordering that penalty points are imposed on your driving licence and that you pay a fine, contribution towards prosecution costs and a victim surcharge (a payment that goes towards victims of crime).
Can I be disqualified under the Single Justice Procedure?
The answer is no, unless you are sent a Notice of Proposed Driving Disqualification.
If a single magistrate is considering imposing a driving disqualification then he/she will send you a Notice of Proposed Driving Disqualification. If you want, you can then respond requesting a full hearing before magistrates. You will then be able to attend the hearing and put forward arguments as to why you should not be banned from driving. For example, if you had nine penalty points on your driving licence already and you were intending to plead guilty to a further speeding offence you would be facing a minimum driving ban of 6 months owing to having 12 penalty points or more. However at a full hearing before the Magistrates Court you can argue exceptional hardship, and your licence could still be saved.
If you don't respond to the Notice of Proposed Driving Disqualification by a set date then you will be disqualified.
What if I want to plead guilty but I still want to attend court?
If you return the Single Justice Procedure Notice stating that you wish to plead guilty but want to attend court, then the single magistrate will not deal with your case and it will be put over for a full court hearing and once more you will receive a summons with the date for this.
What if I am pleading not guilty?
If you plead not guilty on the Single Justice Procedure Notice, then your case will be put over for a trial at a later date at the Magistrates Court. In the Single Justice Procedure Notice, on the plea form, you must have ticked the box saying “Not Guilty”. You should also have written in this notice briefly why you are pleading not guilty and also which prosecution witnesses you want to be present at the trial for cross-examination.
Can an imprisonable offence be dealt with under a Single Justice Procedure?
No. It should be borne in mind that the Single Justice Procedure can only deal with offences that are not imprisonable. It cannot therefore deal with more serious offences such as drink-driving, drug-driving, dangerous driving or failing to stop or report after an accident. These imprisonable offences must always be dealt with by way of a full public court hearing.
What happens if I simply don’t respond to a Single Justice Procedure Notice?
It should be noted that where someone does not respond to the Single Justice Procedure Notice, the single magistrate can find that person guilty by reading through the papers and making a decision and then sentencing if appropriate.
Should I instruct a solicitor about a Single Justice Procedure Notice?
Yes. It is important that you make the right decision when completing the Single Justice Procedure Notice as to whether you want to plead guilty and attend court, guilty but not attend court, or not guilty. Attached to the Notice there are normally prosecution statements. It is a good idea to make sure you have instructed a specialist motoring solicitor so that they can take your instructions, look over these statements and tell you what your chances of success are at trial, and give you advice concerning your plea. If you lose at trial, the sentence you receive will normally be worse than if you had pleaded guilty at an early stage. Also, you will have to pay much more towards the prosecution costs, so it is important that you make the right decision as to your plea.
If you find yourself in the predicament where you have received a Single Justice Procedure Notice, contact us at Speeding Law Solicitors. We are specialist motoring solicitors, operating throughout England and Wales. We have a very high success rate. Ring us now on FREEPHONE 0800 909 8110 for a FREE consultation with an experienced solicitor.