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"Mistaken" Seatbelt Offence - Advice Please!! :- Fighting in court, Threads merged
Bestfootie
post Tue, 7 May 2019 - 13:04
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Hi all, I signed up a long time ago though it must have been a long time since I was actually on here as couldn't even remember the name of the site!

I was stopped a couple of weeks ago for allegedly failing to wear a seatbelt. I was driving on a high street, there were two police officers on motorbikes hiding down a side road. They pulled me over, I wound down the window partially (they wanted me to wind down fully, I explained that was sufficient for them to communicate with me). They asked me for my details. I questioned if I were legally obligated to provide that information. They said yes. This was false (in a sense, as I understand that under PACE all they can ask for is for me to produce my details at a police station within seven days).

In any case, once I'd pulled over and while the two police officers were conversing privately, for my own protection I began filming the conversation on my mobile phone that was in the cradle. I explained to them that I am filming them for my own protection. In the video you can clearly see I am wearing a seatbelt. They allege that I wasn't.

I received a COFP and my question is really what the forum thinks are my chances of winning in court. The evidence I have:- my video; a future witness statement by me if I were to provide one; reasonable doubt by the distance the police were from the vehicle (sideways on and about 30 - 40 metres away so no idea how they could claim to see what I was wearing from there). Police's evidence:- two officers saying the same thing. They cannot have video evidence to the contrary as it didn't happen.

So on money-saving purposes and more importantly principle, I am very inclined to fight this.

Please could people provide any advice/experience with fighting this in court. If I should reply to the COFP (if so is there an email address) or just wait for any summons if one is made? What stage do I have a right to request disclosure of police evidence?

Thanks all!

J

This post has been edited by Bestfootie: Tue, 7 May 2019 - 13:18


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post Tue, 7 May 2019 - 13:04
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Jlc
post Tue, 7 May 2019 - 14:38
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Your own video evidence doesn't appear to cover the period of the allegation.

Without knowing what the officers claim to have seen (remember they may have been mistaken - they do not lie) it's hard to comment.

But in simple terms if you know were guilty then accepting the FP offer is definitely the way to go. It's the best 'offer' you'll get - after that court costs etc. come into play.

If you were innocent then fighting it is your call. But there's no guarantee you won't be convicted if the officer's evidence is accepted.

Going to a contested trial could attract costs alone exceeding £600 (assuming this isn't Scotland).

I would expect your 'conduct' after the stop would feature in their statements that may not assist your defence - even though it's unrelated to the alleged offence itself.

Should you want to fight then check what the paperwork says - if it's a CoFP then it should not require any action from yourself. However, some fixed penalties need explicit request for a court hearing as if they are 'ignored' then they automatically escalate by 50% with no recourse.

You will be entitled to the evidence they intend to rely upon in court but I expect this to their written statements only. Video evidence is not required to convict.


--------------------
RK=Registered Keeper, OP=Original Poster (You!), CoFP=Conditional Offer of Fixed Penalty, NtK=Notice to Keeper, NtD=Notice to Driver
PoFA=Protection of Freedoms Act, SAC=Safety Awareness Course, NIP=Notice of Intended Prosecution, ADR=Alternative Dispute Resolution
PPC=Private Parking Company, LBCCC=Letter Before County Court Claim, PII=Personally Identifiable Information

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southpaw82
post Tue, 7 May 2019 - 15:31
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QUOTE (Bestfootie @ Tue, 7 May 2019 - 14:04) *
I wound down the window partially (they wanted me to wind down fully, I explained that was sufficient for them to communicate with me).


I bet that went down well. Being pointlessly uncooperative rarely gets you anywhere but what’s done is done.

QUOTE
They asked me for my details. I questioned if I were legally obligated to provide that information. They said yes. This was false (in a sense, as I understand that under PACE all they can ask for is for me to produce my details at a police station within seven days).


They were right, you were wrong. Road Traffic Act 1985, s 165

QUOTE
(1) Any of the following persons—

(a) a person driving a motor vehicle (other than an invalid carriage) on a road

must, on being so required by a constable or vehicle examiner, give his name and address and the name and address of the owner of the vehicle and produce the following documents for examination.


QUOTE
I received a COFP and my question is really what the forum thinks are my chances of winning in court.


If you have a video showing that you were wearing your seatbelt through the entire journey (or at least that part of the journey where the police say you weren’t) then I’d say excellent. If you only have video after the event showing that at that time you were wearing your seat belt then not so much. In that case much would depend on what the prosecution say about you putting your belt on after you were spotted but before you started filming and what evidence the officers give on that matter.


QUOTE
a future witness statement by me if I were to provide one


I think you’d be silly not to, as your defence will rely on your own evidence.



QUOTE
If I should reply to the COFP (if so is there an email address) or just wait for any summons if one is made?


What does the COFP say about challenging it?

QUOTE
What stage do I have a right to request disclosure of police evidence?


You can request it whenever you like. They’re not obliged to give you anything until they start court proceedings. Even by that point the officers may not have written their statements so you may not get them until shortly before any trial.


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The Rookie
post Tue, 7 May 2019 - 15:48
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Part of your problem will be that by being all Barack room lawyer (and very wrongly at that) the bench may conclude you put the belt on when you saw them coming after you as a ‘wizard wheeze’ to ‘prove’ your innocence. I’m surprised at that for someone who completed law school.

Ignoring the fact you were bound to be failing any attitude test, it could well also harm your credibility in court now.

This post has been edited by The Rookie: Tue, 7 May 2019 - 15:50


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cp8759
post Tue, 7 May 2019 - 15:55
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QUOTE (Bestfootie @ Tue, 7 May 2019 - 14:04) *
...I wound down the window partially (they wanted me to wind down fully, I explained that was sufficient for them to communicate with me). They asked me for my details. I questioned if I were legally obligated to provide that information.

And that is the point where you failed the attitude test and tanked your chances of walking away with words of advice or a seatbelt course. Even if you've actually read the legislation and the relevant case law (which you haven't), there is literally zero point in arguing the law at the roadside, and as you've now found out you were wrong in any event. I'm sorry to say this but your chances of defending the allegation appear to be very slim.


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I am not on the "motorists's side", nor am I on the "police/CPS/council's" side, I am simply in favour of the rule of law.
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Jlc
post Tue, 7 May 2019 - 16:12
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Principles can be expensive. As this is a non-endorseable offence anyway I'd be seriously minded to consider accepting the £100 FP to make it all go away.


--------------------
RK=Registered Keeper, OP=Original Poster (You!), CoFP=Conditional Offer of Fixed Penalty, NtK=Notice to Keeper, NtD=Notice to Driver
PoFA=Protection of Freedoms Act, SAC=Safety Awareness Course, NIP=Notice of Intended Prosecution, ADR=Alternative Dispute Resolution
PPC=Private Parking Company, LBCCC=Letter Before County Court Claim, PII=Personally Identifiable Information

Private Parking - remember, they just want your money and will say almost anything to get it.
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666
post Tue, 7 May 2019 - 16:46
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QUOTE (Jlc @ Tue, 7 May 2019 - 17:12) *
Principles can be expensive. As this is a non-endorseable offence anyway I'd be seriously minded to consider accepting the £100 FP to make it all go away.


Remind me - what is the OP's "principle"?
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southpaw82
post Tue, 7 May 2019 - 16:53
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QUOTE (666 @ Tue, 7 May 2019 - 17:46) *
QUOTE (Jlc @ Tue, 7 May 2019 - 17:12) *
Principles can be expensive. As this is a non-endorseable offence anyway I'd be seriously minded to consider accepting the £100 FP to make it all go away.


Remind me - what is the OP's "principle"?

F**k the p*gs?


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Logician
post Tue, 7 May 2019 - 16:58
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Let's take the worst scenario, the cops were bored sitting there and decided to stop an innocent motorist at random, and you were the unlucky one. You were needlessly uncooperative and they decided to stitch you up for a seatbelt offence to teach you a lesson. They are both prepared to perjure themselves in court if necessary and give false evidence that they saw you without a belt, although you put it on later.

It is not a defence a court is likely to accept on your evidence alone, but you have nothing to support you. The costs applicable to a trial on the point have a guideline of £620 if you are found guilty after a not guilty plea, and with two officers coming to court will not be any lower, and that is in addition to the fine. I am afraid that swallowing your pride and taking the fixed penalty is the sensible way forward now.


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Bestfootie
post Tue, 7 May 2019 - 17:41
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Thank you all for your kind (and not so kind, albeit honest!) responses! I've attached two photos here:- one showing the actual road as a photograph; and one a drawn diagram. My question is how reliable their evidence will be seen as given where they are claiming to have observed this from.

Ps - hope you aren't old bill.

Pps - I was actually very kind to the police in the circumstances, well-mannered and polite. I was not unreasonably abrasive. I was within my rights to state what I did regarding the window and I did so in a polite non-confrontational way. I don't want them to fabricate something else or look for something else.

I guess the consensus is to pay the £100."PepiPoo - helping the motorist get justice" - has this been lost in the hearts and minds of the site's users?! biggrin.gif:-) Where's your sense of justice? biggrin.gif

Other photo attached here.


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cp8759
post Tue, 7 May 2019 - 17:49
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QUOTE (Bestfootie @ Tue, 7 May 2019 - 18:41) *
I guess the consensus is to pay the £100."PepiPoo - helping the motorist get justice" - has this been lost in the hearts and minds of the site's users?! biggrin.gif:-) Where's your sense of justice? biggrin.gif

We're not miracle workers, we're telling you what the likely outcomes are. As Logician says, even if it is a malicious conspiracy against you, no court will accept that based on your evidence alone.

If the officers fabricate allegations with any regularity, when they are eventually caught they will face a long prison sentence and at that point you'll be able to ask for a refund. In the meantime paying the fixed penalty is the rational choice. Of course you can go to court if you wish to go out in a (legal) blaze of glory, but it'll cost you the better part of a grand.


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Jlc
post Tue, 7 May 2019 - 17:58
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There’s no guaranteed risk free approach when going to court. But if you know you were wearing your belt then you simply have to convince the court that the officers were mistaken. Think about that for a minute. Not impossible and can be done.

But the skills to do this aren’t easy and may require professional help where you are unlikely to recover all your costs.

You may get justice but perhaps not what you expected.


--------------------
RK=Registered Keeper, OP=Original Poster (You!), CoFP=Conditional Offer of Fixed Penalty, NtK=Notice to Keeper, NtD=Notice to Driver
PoFA=Protection of Freedoms Act, SAC=Safety Awareness Course, NIP=Notice of Intended Prosecution, ADR=Alternative Dispute Resolution
PPC=Private Parking Company, LBCCC=Letter Before County Court Claim, PII=Personally Identifiable Information

Private Parking - remember, they just want your money and will say almost anything to get it.
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southpaw82
post Tue, 7 May 2019 - 18:50
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rolleyes.gif


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Dwaynedouglas
post Tue, 7 May 2019 - 21:56
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QUOTE (Bestfootie @ Tue, 7 May 2019 - 18:41) *
"I was within my rights to state what I did"


Similarly, you are within your rights to contest in court. It's just more expensive if you lose.

As an aside, do you have a dashcam? If so, I wonder if it could hear the seatbelt click at the start of the journey?

A dashcam would also hold record of the conversation between you and the officers.

QUOTE (Bestfootie @ Tue, 7 May 2019 - 18:41) *
"I guess the consensus is to pay the £100."PepiPoo - helping the motorist get justice" - has this been lost in the hearts and minds of the site's users?! biggrin.gif:-) Where's your sense of justice? biggrin.gif"


It looks like your option for justice is to contest the offence in court. Many users here have offered help in ascertaining what they expect the evidence threshold might be, but it is always a gamble. If you choose to go to court, I am sure you will continue to receive help from PePiPoo in your quest for justice.

The advice appears to be, based on what you have told us, that a pragmatic view should be considered. However this is your decision to make.

Anecdotally, members on this site are right more often than not, but it has been known for courts to make decisions that do not agree with the collective mind here.


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The Rookie
post Wed, 8 May 2019 - 02:13
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Seatbelt cases can be fought but it is difficult. Ignoring the rights and the wrongs you are gambling a £100 penalty with fines and costs and surcharge that will be circa £900 so you either need to have deep enough pockets, a good defence or a lot of conviction to take it to court. Hire a decent solicitor and win and you’ll likely be out of pocket £100 or more anyway.

We have had a few successful cases, very few, one revolved around showing that the police officers couldn’t actually see if the driver were wearing a belt, the assumed that because they couldn’t see one the driver wasn’t, he showed the court that in that car you couldn’t see a belt even when it was worn.

While within your rights about the window, it hurts your case, as does your complete misunderstanding about showing your licence (which has nothing to do with PACE) which makes you seem a ‘Barrack room lawyer’.

It’s your choice whether to fight it, but as noted you rely on coming across totally credible in court and you harmed that during the stop, but if you want to fight it anyway you’ll get the advice you need to do it as well as possible.


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Bestfootie
post Mon, 19 Aug 2019 - 13:11
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Hi

I have received a Summons on Referral to Court for an alleged seatbelt offence. This is after I wrote back to the Single Justice Procedure notice requesting a hearing.

I allege that the offence of no seatbelt did not occur. The police were tucked away down a sideroad, waiting to stop people, and they suddenly appeared on motorbikes claiming I was not wearing a seatbelt. I took video footage at the time the police showed up at the window of my car and incidentally in that footage my seatbelt is clearly worn and visible. I think the two policemen may have held an honest, albeit erroneous, belief that I was not wearing a seatbelt. This would not have been helped by a contrary-direction lane of traffic blocking their view and the colour of my clothing on the day being the same colour as a seatbelt.

There are two issues pursuant to the summons:-

1. I have not had full disclosure from the police. I have only seen the two clowns' witness statements. They claim they have video evidence. They have not disclosed this to me. As a defendant in criminal proceedings, I'm entitled to full disclosure prior to hearings.

2. The case has been listed at a magistrates' court that is not my local court nor local to where the alleged incident took place. I would like the magistrates' court hearing moved to my local hearing rather than on the police's doorstep.

I have emailed the address on the Summons:-

-------

QUOTE
"...I am in receipt of a Summons dated XXXX 2019, listing a case at XXXX Magistrate Court at XXpm on XXXX 2019.

I am grateful the court has referred the matter for a full hearing.

However two issues arise at this stage:-

1. The Police have not provided full disclosure. In line with the general rules of criminal evidence, I am entitled to full disclosure prior to any prosecution.

2. The matter has been listed in XXXX Magistrate Court. As a defendant in these proceedings, I have a right for the matter to be heard at the magistrates court local to where the alleged incident occurred. This was in XXXXX and so the local court is XXXX Magistrates Court.

So, going forward I would ask that a) the magistrates direct the police / CPS to fully disclose all evidence they seek to rely on in the hearing (including and not limited to any video evidence they claim to have); and b) that the hearing be transferred to XXXX Magistrates Court.

I look forward to hearing from you as soon as possible..."

-----


Please could anyone with experience of this give me some advice. Thanks in advance!

J



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The Rookie
post Mon, 19 Aug 2019 - 13:25
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This is unlikely to be your trial date, have you requested the video at all, have you submitted your own witness statement.

I doubt your video after the fact will be that conclusive unless the places own video shows you had no opportunity to ‘slip it on quick’.


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TryOut
post Mon, 19 Aug 2019 - 13:54
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1. You are only entitled to disclosure of the evidence that the CPS and police are intending to use to evidence the offence. Some material will be listed as unused, unless you apply to the court for its release with reasons why it should be then it won't be released to you. Full Disclosure means you get all materials that are to be used by the prosecution, not everything that they have and you might want.

2. You will have to go to where the Big Top is located as that is where the "clowns" will be appearing. If you start performing in their circus then it is to their circus you must return...unless you have a better reason than "...it's on their doorstep and you don't want to go there..."

This post has been edited by TryOut: Mon, 19 Aug 2019 - 13:55
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nosferatu1001
post Mon, 19 Aug 2019 - 13:57
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1) I thought they had to release anything that may assist the defence as well?
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southpaw82
post Mon, 19 Aug 2019 - 14:03
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QUOTE (TryOut @ Mon, 19 Aug 2019 - 14:54) *
1. You are only entitled to disclosure of the evidence that the CPS and police are intending to use to evidence the offence. Some material will be listed as unused, unless you apply to the court for its release with reasons why it should be then it won't be released to you. Full Disclosure means you get all materials that are to be used by the prosecution, not everything that they have and you might want.

What happened to evidence that may assist the defence or undermine the prosecution?


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