You will soon be allowed to enter a plea online to minor motoring offences.
This was trialed in Greater Manchester and the government deemed it a success, despite only 33% of people bothering to use it.
Apparently it will reduce the amount of paperwork and people within the system allowing the courts to concentrate on the most complex cases. Of course the most complex cases are dealt with in the Crown Court which is never troubled by minor motoring matters!
The service is offered as an alternative to a postal plea or attending court and has been developed with court users to meet their needs.
The government commented that the highest volume of work that the police, prosecution and courts deal with is low level traffic offences. The latest annual statistics show proceedings were taken for half a million summary motoring offences.
This of course will be the case because the prosecution are charging fewer and fewer people due to lack of resources and the police are encouraged to caution or offer fixed penalties to as many people as possible, often for serious offences. A large amount of fines imposed are unpaid but of course motorists are the one group of ‘criminals’ that can, and do pay fines. Am I being cynical thinking that the fact that there is a high proportion of motoring offences is linked to the likelihood of courts recovering the fines?
The government commented that “Identifying and concluding guilty plea cases earlier saves work and money for the criminal justice system and taxpayers. ‘Make a Plea’ also saves time and simplifies the process for defendants as well as making sure they receive maximum credit from the court for pleading guilty at the earliest possible point.”
This is one of the comments that causes our clients the most confusion, they believe that it is a race to plead guilty to get the maximum credit. They suggest driving to the court the day the receive the court papers so they can get the maximum credit when the reality is that it won’t be looked at until the day of the hearing and it makes no difference when it is received provided it is before the hearing date.
Good idea or just another attempt to chip away at motorists rights?
Motorists have to remember that whatever they say on the online plea will be read by the court. It is still important to include good mitigation and we can help you draft that to get the best result.
Call us on 01623 397200 for free initial and honest advice about this.