So you have received a summons for a motoring offence and you deny it, what do you do from here?
The summons will include a form asking various questions. The most important of these is in relation to the 3 options you get for your plea. Either – Plead Guilty by post, Plead guilty at court or plead not guilty.
The summons will normally tell you whether you need to attend court. Normally for a motoring summons it can be dealt with in your absence. This can be an advantage because it avoids taking more time off work.
The aim of returning the form when you deny it is two fold. Firstly you want to avoid any extra court hearings and secondly you want to try and get the matter dropped as soon as possible. This is the best stage to instruct a specialist motoring solicitor.
I see lots of advice from non lawyers online suggesting that you keep your cards close to your chest in relation to your defence.
I disagree with this, if you have a strong defence then let the court and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) know. The CPS will probably not have even seen the file until a not guilty plea is entered. The matter is dealt with as an admin function until a not guilty plea is entered. The CPS have a duty to review cases and see whether there is a realistic prospect of success and whether it is in the public interest.
You may be tempted to follow the advice of a non motoring solicitor and give very few details. The reality is that if you just fill the form in with no details of your defence the matter will be listed for a case management hearing when you will need to attend and explain your defence. This defeats the object of having as few hearings as possible. I would advise that you go through the matter with a motoring solicitor, get advice on what you should put in here, if they won’t give you this advice for free try someone who will (me ;-)) In brief I would suggest you need to give details of your defence,what witnesses you have and tell the court how long you think the case will take (assume about 30 minutes per witness) I would also suggest you tell the court if there are any witnesses for the Prosecution that you don’t neet to give live evidence – in other words if there is a witness whose ‘evidence’ is not contested then you can allow their evidence to be read out rather than them attend court. An example of this may be a Police Counter clerk who simply says she checked your documents when you produced them at the police station.
An example of the advantage of doing it this way happened to me only last week. I had been consulted by a client who was charged with failing to furnish details of the driver. His defence was that he never receieved the paperwork. We completed the form and told the court of our defence, we also told them the names of 8 witnesses who would give evidence that they have had postal difficulties at that address. The result? It was dropped by the CPS at this first hearing without the need for my client to ever attend. Bear in mind this was the first time the CPS had seen the case, by setting out a full and strong defence they took the view there was not a reasonable prospect of success for them and dropped it.