The Gov UK website (https://www.gov.uk) is a United Kingdom public sector information website, created by the Government Digital Service to provide a single point of access to HM Government services. The site launched as a beta on the 31st January 2012, following on from the Alphagov project. The Gov website offers digital services, including a “Crime, justice and the law”. This option contains a weblink which you, either with or without the help of your legal representation, can use to make a ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ plea to a traffic offence. The web address for this is https://www.gov.uk/make-a-plea.
The Gov UK “Make a Plea” service will allow individuals to enter their ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ pleas online for summary traffic offences. These traffic offences will not result in a prison term for the defendant if convicted. The “Make a Plea” service aims to reduce the number of defendants attending court unnecessarily and create a public plea entry for traffic offences which is accessible to any individual. The “Make a Plea” service will also provide a fee payment mechanism for ‘guilty’ pleas, allow the re-scheduling of hearings and show results of cases and notify defendants online.
A person can use this service to plead ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’ to a traffic offence. To use this service, you must be either the person charged with the offence or an official representative of a company charged with the offence. To use the “Make a Plea” service, you will need the notice the police sent you, your driving licence, your National Insurance number (this can be found a payslip, a P60, or letters about tax, pensions and benefits. You will also need details of your income and details of your outgoings (for example your rent or mortgage and household bills.
With Driving Solicitors, you will get support and advice on how to use the “Make a Plea” online service. However, there is also a call centre that you can call for advice and help over using this service. However, if you have questions about your case, you will need to contact your court. Before you use this call centre, you will need to have the pack that Gov UK sent you for information, and you’ll need to be connected to www.makeaplea.service.gov.uk from an internet-enabled device, for example, laptop, tablet or mobile phone. This call centre is very helpful for individuals as they do not work for the police or the court and will not be able to answer any questions about your court. You can call this call centre on a Monday to Friday, between 9am and 5pm on 0300 063 2140.
However, using a motoring solicitor from Driving Solicitors will not only help you with the “Make a Plea” service, but will also talk you through whether you should be pleading ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’. Remember, you are innocent until proven guilty! It is for the prosecution to prove the case against you, not for you to disprove it. It goes without saying that a motorist should obtain proper legal advice from a solicitor, such as Driving Solicitors, before acting and pleading a sentence that you might later regret.
Unfortunately, the majority of motorists will plead ‘guilty’ when accused of a driving offence. This is despite of not seeing the evidence that has been put against them. How many people do you know who have been accused of a driving offence and just pleaded ‘guilty’ by post to avoid the hassle of going to court? Even motorists, who have attended court, have been disqualified from driving often because they have failed to examine the evidence against them.
The fact that the vast majority of people plead ‘guilty’ without obtaining and checking the evidence can actually work in your favour. With Driving Solicitors, you and your solicitor will take the time to check the evidence against you. Together, you may uncover mistakes made by the police or the CPS which will then help you win your case.
If you have received any of the following documents, for example a fixed penalty, a speeding ticket, a notice of intended prosecution (NIP) or a requirement to identify the driver s.172, it does not necessarily mean that you have to attend court. In fact, the only document that can require you to attend court is a summons, and even with one of these you can often avoid going to court with the help of a good motoring solicitor. It is important that you acquire a disclosure of all evidence against you before you attend court of make your plea of ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’. This is relevant no matter what the driving offence – whether it’s speeding, driving without due care and attention, driving without insurance, or any other offence.
When a person receives a summons to court, very often they will panic and feel pressured into entering a guilty plea. This is often because the individual just wants the matter over and done with as soon as possible. Please take time to think and seek reliable legal advice from our solicitors at Driving Solicitors before making any decisions. Our solicitors will explain all your options and help you make the right decision for your situation.
Before deciding on whether you should plead ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’, our solicitors will normally recommend that you have sight of the evidence against you. Remember that you can plead ‘guilty’ at any time and therefore, you have very little to lose by checking all the evidence properly first.
To help ensure that you don’t make a plea before knowing where you stand, a summary of the legal process for committing a typical driving offence might put your mind at ease. Please note that the procedure will be different if you have been arrested and bailed to court:
- You were stopped by the police and given a verbal NIP or received a written NIP through the post.
- If a NIP was received through the post, you will also have received a notice requiring you to identify the motorist – usually contained on the reverse side of the NIP. This is known as a s.172 notice.
- Once the motorist has been identified, the police may offer a fixed penalty (3 points and a £60 fine).
- You may be given the option to take a speed awareness course if you haven’t taken one in the last 3 years.
- If a fixed penalty / speed awareness course is not offered, or you do not accept it, the police may pass the case to court.
- The Summons will require you to attend court on a specific date to enter a plea. The Summons will give you the option of entering a plea by post or by the ‘Make a Plea’ service to avoid having to attend court at the first hearing.
- If the motorist pleads ‘guilty’ by post or by the “make a Plea” service, the court will always require the motorist to attend court if the motorist faces a possible disqualification due to a high speed or having too many penalty points.
- If a motorist pleads not guilty the court will set a future date, allowing time for the CPS to make disclosure of the evidence. If the CPS fails to make disclosure of the evidence within time, or the evidence is poor, the case against the motorist may collapse.
The summary above makes the whole process look straightforward. In fact, traffic laws can be extremely complicated. If the evidence, or lack of it, from the police and the prosecution is challenged properly, it can take several months for a case to reach a date for trial. Therefore, it is important for you to seek legal advice. At Driving Solicitors, our team will ensure that they go through your case with a fine-toothed comb to ensure that they get the best result possible for you.
The “Make a Plea” service is a good way of reducing the amount of cases and defendants who unnecessarily go to court, but it is always worth seeking legal advice before making your official plea. Our team of specialist motoring solicitors at Driving Solicitors have the experience and expertise to help and guide you through the using the ‘Make a Plea” service. Do not hesitate to contact Driving Solicitors on 0203 488 2551 and get expert legal advice today.
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Written by: Miriam Rhodes-Leader