Convicted In Your Absence
If you have been convicted in your absence as a result of a mistake or because you did not know about the case against you, you will need expert advice from road traffic solicitors as to how the conviction against you can be re-opened.
This is not technically an appeal and the benefit is that we can essentially re-start the case from the beginning. This way, you do not lose your right to appeal to the Crown Court, should you be wrongly convicted in the new trial.
If you delay in making an application to set aside a conviction this could be harmful in relation to the likely success of your application. It is therefore of paramount importance to act quickly and contact us as soon as you know that a mistake has been made.
There are two avenues for these purposes. The first is where you did not know of the proceedings in which you were convicted. In this instance, we may advise you to make a statutory declaration.
Making a Statutory Declaration
If you make a statutory declaration within 21 days of finding out that you have been convicted of an offence without your knowledge, the magistrates will generally set the conviction aside. Where you are outside of this 21 day period, the Magistrates can refuse to accept a Statutory Declaration.
It goes without saying that as soon as you have found out that you have been convicted of an offence without realising, you should act as quickly as possible. Most specialist road traffic solicitors will advise lodging an appeal to the Crown Court at the same time in the event that the Magistrates do not accept setting aside your conviction.
If the magistrates accept the making a Statutory Declaration, the conviction will be set aside. The Magistrates will either relist the case for trial or the Court will simply accept the declaration. In this instance, the crown prosecution service will issue another summon and your case will re-commence.
The vast majority of cases that require a statutory declaration to set aside a conviction are instances or allegations of failing to provide driver information. Individuals will have been convicted in their absence and their licenses endorsed with 6 points. In this instance, the original offence will have been withdrawn. Courts have then proceeded to re-open the original offence. This may not be correct and you will need advice as to whether this should be challenged.
Once we are successful in setting aside your conviction, any sentence that was imposed as a result of that conviction will also be set aside. This could mean a re-instatement of your driving license if you had been banned.
Rectifying a Mistake
Under Section 142 of the magistrates Court Act 1980, magistrates do have the power to re-open a case in order to correct an error.
Magistrates will need to determine whether it is in the interests of Justice for a case to be re-opened to allow for an error or mistake to be rectified. As soon as you become aware of proceedings, that you have been convicted or that a mistake has been made you will need to make an application as a matter of urgency. The longer the delay in making an application under Section 142, the greater the prejudice and could affect the likely success of your application.
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