We advise and assist motorists on a daily basis in relation to a variety of matters concerning motoring law.
These issues can include:
- Assisting a client for interview by the police under caution
- Assisting clients complete notices of intended prosecution and understanding documents generally relevant to an incident under investigation
- Representation at court
- Giving advice on the often complex law relating to motoring offences
- Appealing against a conviction for a motoring offence.
The vast majority of driving offences start and finish in the Magistrates Court. The more serious cases such as offences of dangerous driving and driving in circumstances where death or serious injury has occurred will invariably be heard in the Crown Court.
This article looks at appealing a driving conviction from the Magistrates Court to the Crown Court.
Driving offences before the courts feature heavily in the daily court lists across the country. The vast majority of driving offences in the Magistrates Court are not considered sufficiently serious to entitle a defendant to legal aid. This is why the vast majority of defendants facing prosecution for a driving offence or series of driving offences either appear in court without representation or with a lawyer having funded the representation privately from their own means.
Given that most defendants appear unrepresented, it follows that a good proportion of defendants who attend court do not understand the law or procedure, do not know what to expect, and do not know how to present any defence to be offered or mitigation to advanced. This can lead to injustice.
It is also not at all uncommon for those facing road traffic prosecution not to attend court for their hearing. This may be because they have asked the court to deal with the case in their absence, or because a person is not aware that a prosecution has been brought. This could be because someone has moved address or because they did not receive any letters advising that prosecution was contemplated or had actually begun. Furthermore, it is not unusual for an offender to provide false details and so someone else may be convicted in their absence and may not find out about a prosecution, conviction and financial penalty until many months, or even years, later.
If you find yourself having been convicted of a road traffic offence in the Magistrates Court, you do have the right to appeal to the Crown Court. If you didn’t know about the proceedings at all and you are confident that you are not guilty of the original offence(s) alleged, then you would first have to approach the convicting court to look to set aside the conviction with a view defending it. If that application to the court does not succeed, then it would be open to you to appeal against the conviction(s) to the Crown Court. If you didn’t know anything about the original offence(s) and you were not responsible, the Magistrates Court would require you to confirm this under Oath – known as ‘swearing a statutory declaration under oath.’
Likewise, you can appeal against any sentence imposed by the Magistrates Court in a road traffic case to the Crown Court as of right.
To appeal against either conviction or sentence, or both, you must lodge an appeal notice to the convicting and sentencing Magistrates Court with 21 days of sentence. You might need assistance in completing the form. In any event, we would always advise talking go a lawyer to get some advice on the merits of appealing. It is even more important to seek legal advice if you are outside the 21 day limit. In these circumstances, the Crown Court will expect to receive reasons why an appeal is out of time. Clearly if you didn’t know about the original proceedings then that is likely to be considered a good reason.
The law relating to road traffic offences can be complex and on occasions very difficult to understand. Foreign nationals who do not have a very good command of English are likely to find dealing with road traffic cases and the process of dealing with correspondence even more difficult. Considering whether to appeal should be something which you seek advice upon. We would be happy to talk through your case with you and give you the advice you need. You certainly need to appreciate that in the event that an appeal fails, the court can increase a sentence and there can be additional financial and costs penalties.
If you have any questions, please contact us in London (West Drayton) on 01895 449288 or in Hertfordshire (St Albans) on 01727 840900 or by email via our contact page.