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MS90 Statutory Decleration - Court Appearance
raburgess1
post Mon, 26 Feb 2024 - 14:55
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Firstly thanks to anyone who take the time to read and respond to this.

I have a court appearance via video link for a hearing in relation to an MS90 charge. Like most of the cases I have read on here, I updated my driving licence when I moved house but forgot to do my V5C. I was first made aware of my charge in January 2023 when I received a payment notice. Having rang the courts they explained that this situation was fairly normal. I provided a declaration over the phone and pleaded "Guilty" to the speeding offence and pleaded "Not Guilty" to failure to give information to identify the driver.

Fast forward 8 months to August 2023 and I had not received any information so rang the court to which I was alluded that due to an administration error my case had not been progressed. This time I was issued with a Stat Dec CPR form along with a SJP notice and completed these with pleads commensurate with my over the phone declaration. I received an email only last week with note of my court date.

Having read more around the topic I now understand that this was not the best approach and should have pleaded not guilt to both charges with the chance of using a plea bargain at the trial. Its been a long drawn out procedure with the local courts administration error, as I was originally told a 3 month turn around, so was just wondering where I stand at my hearing tomorrow?

This post has been edited by raburgess1: Mon, 26 Feb 2024 - 14:56
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post Mon, 26 Feb 2024 - 14:55
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andy_foster
post Mon, 26 Feb 2024 - 15:18
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Some courts seem to automatically drop the s. 172 if you plead guilty to the speeding, but as far as we know this is not universal, hence pleading not guily to both until such time as a deal can be struck.

In theory, you cannot enter a plea before the case has been reset by the stat dec. Unless pleading guilty by post/online such that the case will be disposed of in your absence, a plea lodged in advance of the hearing is merely an indication of your intended plea, and in any case can be vacated (changed) at any point before you are convicted (although if you confirm a guilty plea at the start of a trial and have a stammer, there would probably not be enough time to change your mind).


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raburgess1
post Mon, 26 Feb 2024 - 15:31
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QUOTE (andy_foster @ Mon, 26 Feb 2024 - 15:18) *
Some courts seem to automatically drop the s. 172 if you plead guilty to the speeding, but as far as we know this is not universal, hence pleading not guily to both until such time as a deal can be struck.

In theory, you cannot enter a plea before the case has been reset by the stat dec. Unless pleading guilty by post/online such that the case will be disposed of in your absence, a plea lodged in advance of the hearing is merely an indication of your intended plea, and in any case can be vacated (changed) at any point before you are convicted (although if you confirm a guilty plea at the start of a trial and have a stammer, there would probably not be enough time to change your mind).


The court will be Somerset if that bears any relevance. Is it worth me pleading not guilty to the both then? As this will be my first time attending court does anyone have any idea how long these appearances last and what is asked. Just trying to prepare myself as much as possible.
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NewJudge
post Mon, 26 Feb 2024 - 17:13
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QUOTE (raburgess1 @ Mon, 26 Feb 2024 - 15:31) *
Is it worth me pleading not guilty to the both then? As this will be my first time attending court does anyone have any idea how long these appearances last and what is asked. Just trying to prepare myself as much as possible.

Yes, you should plead not guilty to both.

At present you cannot be convicted of speeding as they have no evidence that you were driving. That comes from the response to the request for driver's details, which you failed to make. There is a danger (perhaps more remote in recent years) that if you plead guilty to speeding and not guilty to "Fail to Provide Details" (FtP) the court will convict you of speeding and then go on to try you for the FtP (and you have little in the way of a defence to that charge). The result of this for you would be nine points.

The stock advice therefore is to plead NG to both and the negotiate with the prosecutor to plead guilty to speeding only on the condition that the FtP charge is dropped. This is a tried and tested routine familiar to all court users and it has been known to fail only rarely - and then usually because of some fault on the part of the defendant.

Your appearance should not last long. I'm unclear about the status of your Stat Dec, but you may have to take that again, and then it should be a short process (perhaps five to ten minutes) for you to enter your pleas and be sentenced (hopefully just for speeding). You should not have to say too much. The biggest unknown is how long you will have to wait to be called into court. Everybody appearing at the same session is invited to attend at the same time, so you may be first in or you may be last.

This post has been edited by NewJudge: Mon, 26 Feb 2024 - 17:25
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Irksome
post Mon, 26 Feb 2024 - 17:22
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Is it in the interest of justice to continue to prosecute this after such a delay?


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southpaw82
post Mon, 26 Feb 2024 - 19:29
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QUOTE (Irksome @ Mon, 26 Feb 2024 - 17:22) *
Is it in the interest of justice to continue to prosecute this after such a delay?

Why not?


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raburgess1
post Mon, 26 Feb 2024 - 21:27
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So for the avoidance of doubt below is part of the email that was sent to me along with the form that I filled in:

What you need to do

You must complete the attached statutory declaration form make sure you add to the form
the date you first knew about the conviction
how you first knew about the conviction
your name, address and date of birth
the date you completed the form
indicate your plea to each offence in writing. This means if you believe you are guilty or not guilty. You can do this on the Single Justice Procedure Notice.
make sure you add your name and the date
If you are pleading not guilty explain why

send these to ASGSTATDECS@justice.gov.uk . You need to make your declaration no later than 21 days after the date you found out your case had been dealt with.
If you cannot make the declaration within the 21 days, you’ll need to explain to the authorised court officer why the application is late. The authorised officer will decide if you can make the declaration.




I supplied the following as part of the Single Justice Procedure Notice. From further research of my email it looks like I didn't complete and of the statutory notice form.

Ultimately I am just worried that having intended to plead guilty for the speeding charge I'll be asked why my decision has changed, is this a likely scenario.

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Irksome
post Tue, 27 Feb 2024 - 01:20
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QUOTE (southpaw82 @ Mon, 26 Feb 2024 - 19:29) *
QUOTE (Irksome @ Mon, 26 Feb 2024 - 17:22) *
Is it in the interest of justice to continue to prosecute this after such a delay?

Why not?


Because, and I accept it is not clear from the OP's account, there appears to have been a very long time between the offence and the OP receiving the opportunity for their case to be heard - my question / point, is, especially with concern for the statutory limitation of 6 months for the commencement of the prosecution, is it in the interests of justice to continue this prosecution something like (and I'm guessing here a bit) 24 months later after the initial offence - certainly given a substantial amount of delay has been introduced (but not all) by the 'system'.

A prosecutor might decide that it is simply not worth the hassle given the apparent delay if the approach could be made in advance of the SJPN?


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The Rookie
post Tue, 27 Feb 2024 - 08:35
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QUOTE (Irksome @ Tue, 27 Feb 2024 - 01:20) *
Because, and I accept it is not clear from the OP's account, there appears to have been a very long time between the offence and the OP receiving the opportunity for their case to be heard

The case has already been heard and he's been convicted.

Justice wouldn't seem to be served by allowing someone guilty (prima face) of two offences to escape punishment when the reason for the delay is solely due to committing one of those offences (failing to update the V5c).


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raburgess1
post Tue, 27 Feb 2024 - 08:36
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I didn't notice before but I ticked the "Guilty - I don not want to come to court" option for my speeding offence. Is it likely this has already taken place. Again I am a bit wary with stating a plea of "Not Guilty" to both offences they will question why I have changed my answer to my speeding offence.
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The Rookie
post Tue, 27 Feb 2024 - 08:44
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The plea isn't entered until you make the SD, they can ask, you can tell them you changed your mind, you are not beholden to it.


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raburgess1
post Tue, 27 Feb 2024 - 10:24
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QUOTE (The Rookie @ Tue, 27 Feb 2024 - 08:44) *
The plea isn't entered until you make the SD, they can ask, you can tell them you changed your mind, you are not beholden to it.


Thanks. So for my expectations they will ask how I would like to plead for each of the offences and then that will be it, I won't be asked for a reasoning as to my no guilty plea for my speeding offence? Will there have to be another hearing?

This post has been edited by raburgess1: Tue, 27 Feb 2024 - 10:39
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NewJudge
post Tue, 27 Feb 2024 - 11:07
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If you're going to attend in person you should arrive early and ask to see the prosecutor for your case. When you do, you can make your offer to plead guilty to speeding on the condition that the FtP charge is dropped. If you are unable to see the prosecutor before you are called into court, when asked to make your pleas you can make the same offer then.

During the pandemic (when as few people as possible physically had to attend court) courts began treating the two charges which are laid in situations like yours as alternatives. This process was even operated under the Single Justice Procedure (i.e. where cases are heard "on papers" and the defendants cannot attend). Some courts have continued with this pragmatic approach but some have not. But however it is handled in your case, it is a procedure well known to prosecutors, magistrates and their legal advisors. It is rarely any problem. As far as I know there has only been one occasion mentioned on this forum where it failed. In that case the defendant was less than polite to the prosecutor, demanding this and that and telling the prosecutor what he could and couldn't do. So the prosecutor showed him and he ended up with nine points.

The only reason we suggest maintaining not guilty pleas to both charges is that in theory the same thing could happen (even without rudeness). If you plead guilty to speeding (which would not be a successful prosecution otherwise because there is no evidence to show who was driving) you could still go on to be tried for FtP and you have little in the way of a defence to that. In practice, provided the prosecutor is satisfied that the defendant is not trying to gain an advantage, they are usually quite happy to see just the signature offence (i.e. in your case, speeding) prosecuted. They do not usually demonstrate a wish to secure prosecutions which for most drivers have quite serious consequences (six points and an endorsement code that gives insurers a fit of the vapours) for what is essentially an administrative oversight (neglecting to update your V5C).

This post has been edited by NewJudge: Tue, 27 Feb 2024 - 11:10
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raburgess1
post Tue, 27 Feb 2024 - 12:06
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Thanks very much everyone for your advice.

I spoke to a legal advisor for about 3 minutes explaining my situation. when asked I said my intention was to plead guilty for the speeding and she said that based on that decision they would drop the MS90 offence. The fine and points would change to be commensurate with the speeding offence only.

I did forget to ask but does anyone know the likely cost of the fine for speeding alone? I assume court fees will be added.

This post has been edited by raburgess1: Tue, 27 Feb 2024 - 12:07
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NewJudge
post Tue, 27 Feb 2024 - 12:44
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What was your alleged speed in the 40mph limit where you were caught?
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raburgess1
post Tue, 27 Feb 2024 - 13:10
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QUOTE (NewJudge @ Tue, 27 Feb 2024 - 12:44) *
What was your alleged speed in the 40mph limit where you were caught?


48mph in a 40
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The Rookie
post Tue, 27 Feb 2024 - 13:24
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QUOTE (raburgess1 @ Tue, 27 Feb 2024 - 12:06) *
I assume court fees will be added.

There are no 'court fees'.

There will be prosecution costs (I think they currently start at £95 and no reason your's shouldn't be the minimum) and a 40% surcharge on the fine which goes to various victim support mechanisms.


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NewJudge
post Tue, 27 Feb 2024 - 15:15
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QUOTE (raburgess1 @ Tue, 27 Feb 2024 - 13:10) *
48mph in a 40

Then you will be fined half a week's net income, reduced by a third for your guilty plea (so one third of a week's income). You will also pay a "Victim Surcharge" of 40% of the fine and, as Rookie says, the police will ask for prosecution costs of around £95. You will also see three points imposed on your driving record.

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