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Should I Plead Guilty By Post? Here’s What You Need To Know

You might think that pleading guilty or not guilty are the only two options available when a charge is brought against you. But if you have received a single justice procedure notice through the post, you might have been left confused by the difference between choosing to plead guilty by post and pleading guilty in court.

In this article, we’ll explain your options if you’ve received a single justice procedure notice, including what happens if you plead guilty by post and how to make the right decision on the best way forward for your case.

Help: I’ve Received A Single Justice Procedure Notice

There aren’t many people who wouldn’t feel a rush of panic when they open an envelope containing a single justice procedure notice. That feeling of dread may soon turn into confusion as you realise that not only do you have the choice between pleading guilty and not guilty, but you can also choose between pleading guilty by post or pleading guilty in court.

But what is the difference between pleading guilty by post or in court, and how do you decide which option is right for you? Read on to learn everything you need to know about responding to a single justice procedure notice.


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Send us a message or call us on 0333 443 2366 for friendly advice


What Is The Single Justice Procedure?

The Single Justice Procedure is a type of court proceeding which is used in cases that involve summary-only offences, for which you cannot be sentenced to imprisonment. This procedure enables cases to be dealt with by a single magistrate, without the need for the prosecutor or defendant to attend court for a hearing.

If you are sent a Single Justice Procedure Notice, you will have the option to plead guilty by post. If you choose this option, you will not need to attend court and can manage your case fully in writing. You’ll be notified of your sentence after it has been decided by the magistrate.

You also have the option to plead not guilty, or to plead guilty in court. Choosing one of these options will mean that you’ll need to attend court for a hearing.

When can you plead guilty by post

When Can You Plead Guilty By Post?

You’ll have the option to plead guilty by post if you receive a Single Justice Procedure Notice. This is usually in the case of minor offences that can’t lead to a prison sentence. This procedure is most commonly used in minor motoring offences, including:

If you receive a Single Justice Procedure Notice, you’ll have the option to plead guilty by post, plead guilty in court or plead not guilty.

Thinking about pleading guilty by post? Contact us to talk through your options

What To Do If You Receive A Single Justice Procedure Notice

If you receive a Single Justice Procedure Notice through the post, you’ll probably be wondering what to do next. In this section, we’ll talk you through exactly what you need to do when you get that dreaded letter through the door.

The first thing to do is to read the allegation and evidence against you and ensure that you understand the charge. The notice should provide a brief outline of the case and the evidence that is held against you. If you’re unsure about anything at this stage, it’s best to seek legal advice to make sure you know exactly what you’re facing.

Single Justice Procedure Notices are sent where the case could be dealt with without the need to go to court. This is why you have the option to plead guilty by post. However, you do have other options too, and it’s important that you carefully consider your choice before making your decision.

What Are Your Options After Receiving A Single Justice Procedure Notice?

The Single Justice Procedure Notice will explain the three options that you have. These are:

  • Plead not guilty
  • Plead guilty by post
  • Plead guilty in court

Let’s explore these options in more detail.

Pleading Not Guilty

If you disagree with the charge brought against you, you may enter a plea of not guilty. This plea means that you did not commit the alleged offence, or you had a reasonable excuse for doing so. If you choose to plead not guilty, your case will be listed for trial, and you will be required to attend court along with any witnesses and your solicitor.

During your court hearing, your solicitor will explain your defence and any witnesses will be invited to explain their version of events. The court will then decide whether you are innocent or guilty of the offence with which you have been charged.

We’d always recommend that you seek legal advice from a specialist motoring offence lawyer before entering a not guilty plea to allow enough time to prepare a strong defence in advance of the trial.

Pleading Guilty By Post

If you decide to plead guilty to the offence that you have been charged with, you can choose to have the case dealt with in your absence. When this happens, the court (a Single Justice Magistrate) will consider the case, along with any written submissions that you have chosen to include. They will then decide on your sentence and notify you by post of the outcome.

Pleading guilty by post enables you to avoid going to court, which is appealing to many people. However, it limits the defence that you’re able to give in the case.

If you’re considering pleading guilty by post, we’d always recommend speaking with an expert motoring offence solicitor to ensure that you are making an informed decision that is right for your individual circumstances.

Pleading Guilty In Court

If you decide to plead guilty to the alleged offence, but there are mitigating factors that you’d like to put forward that may be difficult to explain in writing, you may choose to plead guilty in court. This is often the case where the offence has been committed in extremely unusual circumstances.

Your Single Justice Procedure Notice will give you the option of requesting a formal hearing, where you can plead guilty in court. If you choose this option, you will be notified of your court hearing date and informed of where you need to go.

During your court hearing, you will be asked how you want to plead. The court will listen to anything you want to say about the offence, as well as hearing witness statements, details of your driving record and any other relevant information. The court will then decide what sentence to give you for the offence.


Contact Caddick Davies Solicitors today 

Send us a message or call us on 0333 443 2366 for friendly advice


Responding To A Single Justice Procedure Notice

Responding To A Single Justice Procedure Notice

When you receive your Single Justice Procedure Notice, it will tell you how long you’ve got to send back the form. You’ll usually have 21 days to respond to the notice and make your decision of how to plead.

If you are unsure of which option is right for you, it’s best to seek advice from a specialist motoring offence lawyer who has experience in dealing with similar cases. They will be able to talk you through the options available to you, along with the likely consequences of each, helping you to make an informed decision.

Do You Need A Solicitor To Plead Guilty By Post?

The Single Justice Procedure is designed to deal with minor cases for which you cannot be imprisoned. However, this doesn’t mean that pleading guilty to one of these cases is without risk as the penalties can still be severe.

Many people find it useful to talk through their options with an experienced motoring offence solicitor. They can talk you through the charges and evidence against you, as well as helping you to decide which plea to enter. Not only that, but they can also talk you through what will come next after you have entered your plea.

If you decide to enter a plea of not guilty, it’s vital that you have a specialist motoring offence lawyer on your side. In many cases, your solicitor will be able to complete the notice on your behalf, ensuring that it is completed comprehensively, with all required information. They will then work to prepare the strongest possible defence for your case, giving you the best chances of securing an acquittal at court.

On the other hand, if you intend to plead guilty to the offence, an experienced motoring offence solicitor will be able to advise you on whether to enter your plea by post or in person. In complex situations, you may be advised to plead guilty in court, to mitigate the offence in person. In this situation, it is highly beneficial to have a specialist motoring offence solicitor by your side to present your case.

Should you choose to plead guilty by post, your lawyer will be able to draft a mitigation which sets out the explanation for the offence being committed, including relevant personal circumstances. This can help to minimise the sentence imposed.

Although there is no requirement to appoint a lawyer when you receive a Single Justice Procedure Notice, it is highly recommended. A specialist motoring offence solicitor won’t just give you advice on the right plea to enter, but they will also be by your side throughout the process, helping to secure the best possible outcome, whatever plea you decide to enter.

Received a Single Justice Procedure Notice? Contact us to talk through your options

What Happens If You Enter A Guilty Plea By Post?

You might be wondering what happens next if you decide to plead guilty by post. There are two possible outcomes: the court can choose to accept or reject your plea.

If your guilty plea is accepted, the Single Justice Magistrate will then consider what sentence to award. You’ll receive a letter soon after this happens to let you know the penalty. This could include a penalty point endorsement on your driving licence or financial penalties.

Alternatively, the court may decide to ask you to attend in person. You will be sent a new date to attend court to enter your plea and receive your sentence. If this happens, it’s important that you seek experienced legal representation to talk you through the process and support you with your case.

Changing Your Plea After Pleading Guilty By Post

If you send back your plea form with a guilty plea and later change your mind, you are able to change your plea. You can do this any time before the date of the hearing. You will need to inform the court in writing as soon as possible that you wish to change your plea to not guilty.

If you decide to change your plea, you will then be asked to attend a court hearing to enter your defence and stand trial.


Contact Caddick Davies Solicitors today 

Send us a message or call us on 0333 443 2366 for friendly advice


Changing your plea after pleading guilty by post

Related Questions

Why Have I Been Sent A Single Justice Procedure Notice?

The Single Justice Procedure Notice is a legal process which is used by many police forces across the UK when dealing with minor motoring offences. This process gives suspects the option of pleading guilty by post, avoiding the need to attend court for a formal hearing. Offences for which you may receive a Single Justice Procedure Notice include speeding, driving without due care and attention, contravening traffic signals and driving without insurance.

Is It Better To Plead Guilty By Post?

When you receive a Single Justice Procedure Notice, you’ll be given the option to plead not guilty, or to plead guilty either by post or in court. There is no right or wrong option when it comes to which plea to enter, as the answer will be different for every case. If you’re unsure of which option to choose, you should seek legal advice from a specialist motoring offence solicitor to help you to make the right decision for your individual circumstances.

Get Expert Legal Advice Before Pleading Guilty By Post

If you’ve received a Single Justice Procedure Notice, you might be wondering what your next steps should be. This may include pleading guilty by post, pleading guilty in court or pleading not guilty.

Whatever decision you decide to make, it’s often beneficial to discuss your options with a specialist motoring offence solicitor before entering your plea. They can help to ensure that you have considered every option, as well as assisting you in completing the plea form.

If your case does go to court, your experienced motoring offence lawyer will work with you to prepare the strongest possible defence for your case, aiming to secure an acquittal or a reduced penalty.

To talk through your options for responding to a Single Justice Procedure Notice, including pleading guilty by post, contact us today for a free legal consultation.

Motoring Lawyer at Caddick Davies Solicitors
Caddick Davies is recognised as one of England and Wales’ leading motoring law firms, offering specialist Speeding Solicitors, Drink Driving Solicitors & Dangerous Driving Solicitors.We provide advice and representation on all motoring offences including speeding, the avoidance of disqualification on penalty points or “totting up” (exceptional hardship), driving without due care and attention (careless driving), dangerous driving, drink driving, as well as a range of services related to medical revocation of a driving licence.
Neil Davies

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