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What is a Single Justice Procedure Notice?

Single Justice Procedure Notices (SJPNs) are used for minor offences which cannot result in a prison sentence – such as speeding, driving without insurance or using a mobile phone while driving. They are increasingly used by courts to give people the chance to avoid having their case heard in a court room as an SJPN can mean your case will be decided by a single magistrate without you having to go to court.

This may suit you and for some people an SJPN can make dealing with what may seem a minor matter simpler. But if you have existing penalty points on driving licence or you are a new driver, they can become potentially trickier cases. We understand that just because the courts regard your matter as minor, for you the threat of court proceedings is often anything other than minor.

I’ve received a Single Justice Procedure Notice, what should I do?

Your notice will tell who is prosecuting you (this will usually be the police) and inform you of the alleged offence. It will also provide guidance on what steps you can take, including your right to consult with a lawyer.

You have three options available to you when responding to the SJPN:

  1. Plead guilty and confirm you do not wish to attend court.
  2. Plead guilty but confirm you do wish to attend court.
  3. Plead not guilty.

If you plead guilty and confirm you do not wish to attend court, a single magistrate will deal with your case and sentence you without the need for a court hearing.

You may wish to plead guilty but want to attend court, for example to argue against a driving ban. Here the court must schedule a hearing which you (and your solicitor) will be able to attend.

If you wish to dispute the accusation against you, you can plead not guilty and request a full trial.

Choosing the right option for you is not always straightforward. There is evidence of cases where points you might want to make are not picked up from the forms sent in, leading to much higher fines or disqualification from driving. Undoing those errors can be a costly and expensive process.

What happens if I do not respond?

You have 21 days to respond to the notice. If you fail to do this, the magistrate will make a decision about your case without your input. This means if you are found guilty and sentenced, you will not receive the leniency you would have had if you pleaded guilty. This could lead to your fine or penalty points being higher.

How will I be sentenced?

A prison sentence cannot be imposed through the single justice process but, the magistrate can enforce:

  • Victim surcharges.
  • Payment of the Prosecution’s costs.
  • Penalty points on your driving licence leading to a disqualification from driving.

How Fosters Solicitors can help you

Here at Fosters Solicitors, we understand receiving a SJPN can be incredibly stressful. We are here to help you in any way we can including:

  • Explaining the Single Justice Procedure and how it works.
  • Providing guidance on how to complete the SJP form.
  • Helping you make the right choice on how to respond.
  • Explaining the effects of not going to court.
  • Representing you at court if necessary.

We appreciate not all of those who receive SJPNs are local to Norfolk or Suffolk. Therefore, we are always happy to offer consultations via Zoom to ensure we can advise on your situation whilst ensuring you do not need travel.

Our fixed fee consultations are a cost effective and flexible method to protect yourself from some of the pitfalls associated with this process.

For any further details please do not hesitate to contact the Crime & Motoring team on 01603 723717 or by completing the contact form below with your enquiry.

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    This article was produced on the 4th July 2024 by our Crime & Business Defence team for information purposes only and should not be construed or relied upon as specific legal advice.