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Historic Debt Team Letter, A ten-year old conviction comes to light
tocsin1
post Tue, 7 Aug 2018 - 12:44
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Hello, I'm trying to help out a friend and I want to check with the experts on here what she should do. In 2008 (ie, almost ten years ago), she fell behind on payments for a car and it was seized by bailiffs. Then last month (July 2018), she received a letter from the Historic Debt Team asking for payment of a fine related to a conviction in March 2009. This was followed up two weeks later by a "further steps notice", at which point she phoned up and was told it related to a speeding incident in October 2008 (which is about ten days after the bailiffs had seized the car). I've advised her to make a SD at her local magistrate's court and this is now lined up for ten days' time. I'm now looking for advice on what is likely to happen at the hearing and what she should do. I don't know for sure, but I would guess the conviction is for FTF rather than speeding. If so, what should she do?

Many thanks in advance for helping me help someone very concerned.

This post has been edited by tocsin1: Tue, 7 Aug 2018 - 12:50
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post Tue, 7 Aug 2018 - 12:44
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Logician
post Tue, 7 Aug 2018 - 13:07
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I take it that the letter she received last month was the first she knew of her conviction? If so a stat dec is the right approach, which should put aside the conviction and the sentence and halt any enforcement action. If she is immediately asked to plead in relation to the offence she should plead not guilty. The chance of anyone managing to locate the papers and mount a successful prosecution for a minor offence nearly ten years ago are very small.


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tocsin1
post Tue, 7 Aug 2018 - 13:20
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Thanks, Logician. The letter last month was indeed the first she knew of the conviction.

If the conviction is for speeding (which I gather is unlikely) then it's easy to plead not guilty (she isn't guilty).

But if it's for FTF, on what grounds can she plead not guilty given that as a matter of fact she failed to provide driver details? I wouldn't want to tell her to plead NG only to then have no defence if it did go to trial.
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notmeatloaf
post Tue, 7 Aug 2018 - 13:45
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Plead not guilty on the basis it wasn't reasonably practical to reply to the S172. Clearly the leasing company had her correct address at the time and so she had no reason to think correspondence wouldnt be forwarded on.

As has been said it is very very unlikely they will have the original S172 or speeding evidence so even if they pressure her for a guilty plea she has no reason to do so. Worst case scenario if they dig up information she may have to change her plea and the discount on the fine goes from 33% to 25%. She isn't burning any bridges by pleading not guilty.

This post has been edited by notmeatloaf: Tue, 7 Aug 2018 - 13:46
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tocsin1
post Tue, 7 Aug 2018 - 13:57
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She moved house while she had the car. She didn't inform the DVLA of this but she did have her post redirected and says nothing arrived related to this case. It's a long time ago to recall exact timings with great confidence and I daresay there may have been some shortcomings in her administration. But stick with NG for the time being you think?
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southpaw82
post Tue, 7 Aug 2018 - 14:08
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I’m not sure how many times you want to be told the same thing. She can plead not guilty because she feels like it if she likes, it’s an absolute right. Personally I don’t see it as being in the public interest to prosecute her again. Even if convicted the three points would be spent and the conviction not disclosable immediately.


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tocsin1
post Sat, 18 Aug 2018 - 08:06
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Thanks for the help so far. My friend made the statutory declaration in the week and it was accepted. She was then asked to enter a plea with respect to failure to provide driver details. She pleaded not guilty and has been given a court date. She was told she didn't need to attend in person, but I'm not sure what to read into that. She also says the new date is at a crown court -- is that normal? What 's the best plan of action from here?
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NewJudge
post Sat, 18 Aug 2018 - 12:05
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QUOTE (tocsin1 @ Sat, 18 Aug 2018 - 09:06) *
Thanks for the help so far. My friend made the statutory declaration in the week and it was accepted. She was then asked to enter a plea with respect to failure to provide driver details. She pleaded not guilty and has been given a court date. She was told she didn't need to attend in person, but I'm not sure what to read into that. She also says the new date is at a crown court -- is that normal? What 's the best plan of action from here?

That most certainly is not normal. The best plan of action is to make a few checks!

These matters can only be dealt with in a Magistrates' Court. There is no option to send them to the Crown Court. She also needs to find out what is going to happen at the hearing she has been told she need not attend. Unless she is represented she should attend any hearings that take place.

This post has been edited by NewJudge: Sat, 18 Aug 2018 - 12:06
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notmeatloaf
post Sat, 18 Aug 2018 - 12:59
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It doesn't in theory disadvantage her, but she definitely needs to find out the reason why. Briefly, depending on the offence the case either must be initially heard in magistrates court, can be heard in either crown or magistrates court, or must be heard in crown court. FTF must be heard in magistrates court, so it appears there have been wired crossed at some stage.

What will happen next is that she will be invited to a case management hearing, which is a pre trial meeting where each side sets out their case so that they can be prepared on the day and the court can allocate the correct time. Of course as the CPS are likely to have no evidence they are very likely to drop the case at this stage without going to trial.

If they do decide to proceed then there are a few broad options. Perhaps the obvious ones are

1. If they don't have any records put the CPS to proof that a S172 was sent out to her beyond the lease company. As they don't have a copy of the S172 then this is effectively impossible. Even if they do have some sort of record point out that due to deficiencies by the leasing company she never received the S172 and thus it was not reasonably practicable to reply, which is a statutory defence to S172. THis is a strong defence, but carries a small risk of a large fine + £620 costs for a contested trial. Points are immediately spent and thus irrelevant.

2. Ask the prosecutor to swap the S172 for the much less serious speeding charge in exchange for a guilty plea for speeding. This is not technically allowed as she has not actually been charged with that offence, but they may well accept it for an easier life. You can then push your luck and ask for it to be sentenced at fixed penalty rates, as she couldn't take up a fixed penalty for reasons unconnected to the offence. That may be either £60 fine + £85 costs + £30 victim surcharge, or £30 fine + £30 victim surcharge if they accept it, or an income related fine if not. Any points are immediately spent so irrelevant.

3. Plead guilty to the S172 charge. This will be a larger fine but £85 costs. Again any points are immediately spent so the most punishing part of S172, the effect on insurance, doesn't happen.

However, seeing as it is odds on to be dropped at case management when, for the first time, the CPS actually review the file, with zero risk to you, then it isn't worth worrying about those options for the moment.

This post has been edited by notmeatloaf: Sat, 18 Aug 2018 - 13:01
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TonyS
post Sun, 19 Aug 2018 - 17:49
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QUOTE (notmeatloaf @ Sat, 18 Aug 2018 - 13:59) *
3. Plead guilty to the S172 charge. This will be a larger fine but £85 costs. Again any points are immediately spent so the most punishing part of S172, the effect on insurance, doesn't happen.

Doesn't that depend on the exact question asked by the insurer? For example my last car insurance renewal (Aviva) asked "How many motoring convictions or fixed penalties have you had in the last 5 years?" which I would interpret as meaning conviction in the last five years, not offence within the last five years.

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southpaw82
post Sun, 19 Aug 2018 - 18:30
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For the purposes of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 the fine is spent 1 year after the date of conviction, the endorsement is spent 5 years from the date of conviction. Offences don’t have to be disclosed to an insurance company once they’re spent.


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Logician
post Sun, 19 Aug 2018 - 19:43
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QUOTE (tocsin1 @ Sat, 18 Aug 2018 - 09:06) *
Thanks for the help so far. My friend made the statutory declaration in the week and it was accepted. She was then asked to enter a plea with respect to failure to provide driver details. She pleaded not guilty and has been given a court date. She was told she didn't need to attend in person, but I'm not sure what to read into that. She also says the new date is at a crown court -- is that normal? What 's the best plan of action from here?


That seems very strange, but sometimes magistrates' courts and crown courts are located in the same building, I wonder if that has caused confusion. Can you get sight of any documentation relating to this?



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TonyS
post Mon, 20 Aug 2018 - 09:40
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QUOTE (southpaw82 @ Sun, 19 Aug 2018 - 19:30) *
For the purposes of the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974 the fine is spent 1 year after the date of conviction, the endorsement is spent 5 years from the date of conviction. Offences don’t have to be disclosed to an insurance company once they’re spent.

What I was getting at was, if this goes to court now would it not be a new conviction, ie dated 2018? Even though the offence was way back.
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The Rookie
post Mon, 20 Aug 2018 - 10:32
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No, the offence date is the one that is relevant.


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southpaw82
post Mon, 20 Aug 2018 - 11:11
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QUOTE (The Rookie @ Mon, 20 Aug 2018 - 11:32) *
No, the offence date is the one that is relevant.

For penalty points and totting but is it the relevant date for when a conviction becomes spent?


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Any comments made do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon. No lawyer/client relationship should be assumed nor should any duty of care be owed.
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The Rookie
post Mon, 20 Aug 2018 - 13:54
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Indeed, any fine element imposed would have to be declared for 12 months.


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There is no such thing as a law abiding motorist, just those who have been scammed and those yet to be scammed!

S172's
Rookies 1-0 Kent

Council PCN's
Rookies 1-0 Warwick
Rookies 1-0 Birmingham

PPC PCN's
Rookies 8-0 PPC's
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southpaw82
post Mon, 20 Aug 2018 - 15:41
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QUOTE (The Rookie @ Mon, 20 Aug 2018 - 14:54) *
Indeed, any fine element imposed would have to be declared for 12 months.

And the endorsement?


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The Rookie
post Mon, 20 Aug 2018 - 15:55
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My understanding is that for most offences that is from date of offence.


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There is no such thing as a law abiding motorist, just those who have been scammed and those yet to be scammed!

S172's
Rookies 1-0 Kent

Council PCN's
Rookies 1-0 Warwick
Rookies 1-0 Birmingham

PPC PCN's
Rookies 8-0 PPC's
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tocsin1
post Mon, 20 Aug 2018 - 17:05
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The magistrates and crown courts are in separate buildings on different roads so there shouldn't be any confusion with the address. I should get sight of the paperwork tomorrow to see if there has been a misunderstanding before I follow up as advised above.
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southpaw82
post Mon, 20 Aug 2018 - 17:07
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So, the Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974, s 5(2)

QUOTE
For the purposes of this Act—

(a) the rehabilitation period applicable to a sentence specified in the first column of Table A below is the period specified in the second column of that Table in relation to that sentence, or, where the sentence was imposed on a person who was under eighteen years of age at the date of his conviction, half that period; and

(b)the rehabilitation period applicable to a sentence specified in the first column of Table B below is the period specified in the second column of that Table in relation to that sentence;reckoned in either case from the date of the conviction in respect of which the sentence was imposed.


Licence endorsements are Table B.


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Any comments made do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon. No lawyer/client relationship should be assumed nor should any duty of care be owed.
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