Single Justice Procedure Notice For Driving Offences

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Have you received a single justice procedure notice?

Let our driving solicitors take the stress out of your Single Justice Procedure Notice.

If you need help writing your Single Justice Procedure Notice mitigating circumstances, get in touch.

Single Justice Procedure Offences

The most common offences dealt with by single justice procedure notices are speeding and/or failing to provide driver details, driving while using a mobile phone, driving without insurance, and driving otherwise than in accordance with a licence.

Help with Single Justice Procedure Notices

We can:

  • Advise whether you should plead guilty or not guilty
  • Enter your plea for you
  • Write mitigation to reduce the penalty. Our experience in these matters means we know what factors the court can and should take into account. We also know what not to write if you want the best result.
  • Advise you on the likely outcome

Why have I received a single justice procedure notice?

You will have received a single justice notice for one of these reasons:

  • If the offence can only be dealt with by the court;
  • You have too many points on your licence to accept a fixed penalty;
  • You did not accept a fixed penalty;
  • You did not complete a driver awareness course if it was offered.

Not sure whether to plead guilty?

Entering the wrong plea on a Single Justice Procedure Notice can make things far worse for you. It can cost you hundreds of pounds and result in a harsher penalty than you may deserve.

We can take the stress out of responding to the court. Our specialist driving offence lawyers can advise you on your plea and strategy so you get the best outcome. If appropriate, we can contact the police to invite them to withdraw or reduce the charge.

Looking for advice about a Single Justice Procedure Notice?

Talk to us today about how we can help you with your driving offence

Also, see below our FAQs on Single Justice Procedure Notices.

What are Single Justice Procedure Notices?

The courts introduced these to increase their effectiveness when dealing with minor driving offences.  The Police use Single Justice Procedure Notices in conjunction with speeding, careless driving, using a mobile phone while driving, driving without insurance and other motoring offences.  The law permits the use of Single Justice Procedure Notices for non-imprisonable matters which can only be dealt with by a Magistrates’ Court.

Single Justice Procedure Notices are not suitable for offences that are potentially imprisonable. If the police charge you with these more serious offences, they will often send you a postal requisition and written charge.

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How do I respond?

SJPNs are sent by the police but require a response to the Magistrates’ Court.

You should therefore enter your plea online or by post to the Court named in the notice before the 21-day deadline expires. You should seek advice before entering your plea if you have any doubts about how to respond.

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Why are they used?

SJPNs are intended to be a faster and more efficient way of dealing with some more minor driving offences.

Many offences can be dealt with at a Single Justice Hearing which means that the defendant does not need to attend.

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Why might I need to go to the Magistrates Court?

If you plead not guilty, request a hearing or if you are at risk of a driving disqualification your case will usually be adjourned at the Single Justice Hearing.

You will then be notified of any future court date by post.

Single Justice Procedure Notices FAQs

Does a single justice procedure notice get you a criminal record?

No. Single Justice Procedure Notices should only be used for non-imprisonable offences such as speeding. Non-imprisonable offences do not result in a criminal record.

However, if you plead guilty or are convicted, the conviction may show up on a DBS check.

What is the time limit for single justice procedure notice?

The time limit for a Single Justice Procedure Notice is 6 months. However, this is the time limit to issue the charge and notice, not the date it has to be served. 

If you receive a Single Justice Procedure Notice outside 6 months, it does not necessarily mean it is invalid. You must not ignore it and should take legal advice immediately. 

How much is a single justice procedure notice fine?

The fine you will receive for a Single Justice Procedure Notice will depend on the offence you are charged with. It will also depend on how much you earn.

Get in touch if you need help responding to a Single Justice Notice. 

What should I do if I receive a Single Justice Procedure Notice?

You must complete and return the Single Justice Procedure Notice confirming your plea within the 21-day time limit. We can respond to your Single Justice Procedure Notice if you instruct us.

Except in the most straightforward of cases, it is best to seek advice before responding. We can help you with your mitigation and take the stress away.

You may have a defence to the allegation or that there are Special Reasons available to you. These could make a significant difference to the outcome.

What happens if I don't respond?

If you don’t respond to a Single Justice Procedure Notice, the court is likely to proceed in your absence. This means that the court could convict you of a motoring offence without having heard your side of the story.

If the court convicts you in your absence, you are unlikely to be given credit for pleading guilty, so the fine you receive is likely to be higher than if you had entered a guilty plea.

Can I still accept a Fixed Penalty or driving course once I've received a Single Justice Procedure Notice?

No. Unfortunately once a Single Justice Procedure Notice has been issued, it’s in the court system and can’t be changed back to a Fixed Penalty Notice or driver awareness course.

You may be able to plead guilty without attending court. If there’s a good reason why you missed the Fixed Penalty Notice deadline, the court may decide to order that you pay the original fine and no additional prosecution costs.

Should I plead guilty?

You should plead guilty to a Single Justice Notice if you don’t have a defence.

If you receive a Single Justice Procedure Notice you may feel under pressure to plead guilty. The notices refer to a discount of 33% for pleading guilty at the earliest opportunity and warns of the likelihood of increased prosecution costs if you don’t. It does not mean that you should plead guilty to an offence if you are not guilty.

However, it is beneficial to consider your plea before returning the documents or entering a plea online. We can deal with this for you.

If you do not have a defence, then it is usually best to plead guilty as soon as possible to preserve credit and to get the best outcome. You should be aware that it can be difficult to retract a guilty plea once entered, so if you are in doubt, get advice before entering your plea.

Conversely, it is straightforward to change your plea from not guilty to guilty. You can do this at any stage in the proceedings, even in the middle of a trial. The later you leave it, the less credit you will receive for your plea.

Will I avoid having to go to court?

You may not need to go to court depending on the charge you are facing. It may also depend on the number of points already on your licence. 

The Single Justice Procedure Notices use standard wording regardless of the seriousness of the offence. The theory is that it avoids unnecessary court hearings. However, if disqualification from driving is a possibility, the court must warn the driver. The court should either invite the driver to a court hearing or send them a letter warning of proposed disqualification. 

When might I need to attend court?

These are two examples of when a court appearance will be likely:

– A driver has six penalty points for two speeding offences. The driver committed the speeding offences in the three years before the current alleged mobile phone offence. Driving while using a mobile phone is an offence for which the court will impose a minimum of six penalty points (unless there are special reasons). The court won’t be able to deal with an offence of driving while using a mobile phone without the driver attending court because the driver would be facing a ‘totting up’ disqualification.

– A driver is facing an allegation of driving at 55mph in a 30mph limit. The magistrates’ court sentencing guidelines suggest that the court should impose a period of disqualification of between 7-56 days or six points. The court should request that the driver should attend court so it can consider whether to ban. It does not mean that the court will impose a driving ban, but it is a genuine possibility.

What if there is a mistake on the Single Justice Procedure Notice?

The court may allow some errors to be corrected. If the police have misspelt your name, it doesn’t automatically mean that the notice is invalid and you can ignore it. The prosecution can ask the court to allow them to amend the papers, and unless you can show that you would suffer prejudice, the court will grant the application. 

If there is a significant error which results in you being disadvantaged, the court may choose not to allow the amendment. Alternatively, the court may allow the change but grant an adjournment for you to prepare your case further. 

Some errors cannot be rectified, such as if an entirely different name or entity is on the Single Justice Procedure Notice. You should seek advice before pleading not guilty solely on the basis that a notice is defective. 

What happens if I miss the 21 day deadline?

If you miss your single justice procedure notice deadline, you should contact the court immediately.  Ask the court if your case has been dealt with. If it hasn’t, you may still be able to enter your plea.

If you have missed the 21-day deadline for responding to a Single Justice Procedure Notice, then take advice urgently.

Can the court throw the case out if I have a defence?

he prosecuting authority (usually the Police alone or together with the Crown Prosecution Service) decides whether to proceed with an allegation. It is not up to the court to make this decision. A court can only dismiss a case in the following circumstances:

  • The prosecution issues a Notice of Discontinuance, offers no evidence or withdraws an allegation (this means that the police or Crown Prosecution Service are choosing not to proceed).
  • The court accepts a submission of no case to answer – often referred to as a ‘half-time submission’. At the close of the prosecution case, the court may decide that no reasonable jury could convict you.
  • The court finds you not guilty after a trial.

That said, sometimes the court may indirectly put pressure on the prosecution by questioning its decision to proceed where it is clear that the case against the defendant is clearly weak. At the Single Justice Procedure Stage, this rarely happens unless there is a prior agreement between the court and the prosecution. 

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