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Pinkcat
I need some advice please. I received a letter last Thursday from the DVLA informing me that I have been convicted of a motoring offence. This was the first I had heard of any of this. To cut a long story short, I moved house in summer 2014 and completely forgot to update my V5 log. This has now been updated but I must have been flashed by a speed camera last year and all the correspondence including the PCN and court summons must have gone to my old address. I accept that this situation is of my own making and I feel very silly to have made such a stupid mistake. However, I now need to try to do some damage limitation.

Upon advice found on this forum, I contacted the court who issued the conviction (oxford) and they advised me to arrange to make a statutory declaration in my local court. I now have an appointment at Luton Magistrates court on the 21st May to make this SD. However, on the phone I was advised that the procedure is to make the declaration and I would then be asked how I plead to the charges. If I plead guilty it will be decided on the day and if not guilty, a date will be set for a new trial. Having read some advice on other threads, I am concerned that this is going to put me in a difficult position on the 21st.

My hope for resolving this would be to try and arrange a plea bargain with the prosecutor to plead guilty to the original speeding offence (which I am pretty sure I must be guilty of) in exchange for them dropping the MS90 conviction. For the sake of the implications on my insurance, I am desperate to avoid being found guilty of this. However, I'm worried that when I attend court on the 21st, I will not be given the option to make this deal and instead will have to either plead guilty or plead not guilty and risk another trial which, if I lose, could result in higher costs. My only defence is that I was completely ignorant of the initial PCN but as I contributed to this situation by not updating my V5, I realise that this defence is not a strong one. Up until this point, I have a completely clean licence.

Would it be a better option to try and arrange to do the SD through a solicitor? If so, how do I go about arranging this? Or is it too late now that I have the appointment at Luton Magistrates court?

Any advice will be most gratefully received.
Gan
An SD is a five minute job that any solicitor can perform for about £10
Shouldn't even need an appointment

If you go ahead with an SD at the court, plead Not Guilty
You never plead Guilty to an MS90 offence

Standard procedure is to do the deal with the prosecutor on the morning of the hearing

If you didn't update your V5 when you moved in Summer 2014, what's been happening to your car tax reminders from the DVLA ?
Pinkcat
Thanks for your reply. I pay my car tax by annual direct and receive email confirmation of this each year so I never gave that a second thought.

If I am asked to plead at my SD hearing and plead not guilty, will they definitely have to reschedule the trial back at Oxford or is there a chance that they would do it at Luton on the 21st?

Am I likely to be better off to do the SD at the solicitor or does it not really make much difference?

Also, if I do go to a solicitor, do I need to prepare the SD and take it with me or get any documentation from the court or will they do that for me?

Thanks
andy_foster
The trial would be at one of the linked courts near TVP's HQ, for the convenience of any witnesses regarding the s. 172 offence. However, as the date for your stat dec was 2 weeks ago, and courts are closed on weekends anyway, this is all a bit academic.
Jlc
I would presume June 21st.

Many courts seem 'happy' to process the SD and then straight into the plea allowing a bargain.
southpaw82
The new Criminal Procedure Rules direct the court to treat an SD as the defendant's first appearance following a summons.
Pinkcat
Sorry, my mistake. The SD date is indeed the 21st June, not May. The initial offence was in Milton Keynes (which is where I live) but for some reason the conviction has come through Oxford court.

So should I attend the SD hearing on 21st June and hope that they offer me the chance to do a plea bargain then and there? Or am I better off trying to do the SD through a solicitor?

If I'm not offered a plea bargain and plead not guilty on 21st June, is there a high risk that I will be found guilty at a later trial hearing and end up paying court costs on top of a fine?

Thanks
Gan
They won't offer a plea bargain

Only the prosecutor can agree that and most of them won't even see the papers on the morning

You're the one that has to make the offer and you do it on the day of the actual hearing

We've never known the offer to be refused
andy_foster
QUOTE (Pinkcat @ Sun, 5 Jun 2016 - 13:15) *
Sorry, my mistake. The SD date is indeed the 21st June, not May. The initial offence was in Milton Keynes (which is where I live) but for some reason the conviction has come through Oxford court.


The real issue is the s. 172 which, as it is an offence of omission, is deemed to have been committed at the address the information should have been provided at.
southpaw82
It is entirely likely that the file for your case will not be at court on 21 June, since the CPS won't necessarily know that a statutory declaration is being filed. Your chances of doing a deal on 21 June are therefore somewhat limited. If asked to plea, a not guilty plea followed by talking to the CPS may well be in order. Pleading guilty to the s. 172 after having done an SD to get that conviction removed is somewhat redundant.
Pinkcat
QUOTE (Gan @ Sun, 5 Jun 2016 - 13:37) *
They won't offer a plea bargain

Only the prosecutor can agree that and most of them won't even see the papers on the morning

You're the one that has to make the offer and you do it on the day of the actual hearing

We've never known the offer to be refused


When you say the hearing, do you mean when I go to make the SD or do you mean when I get a date for trial following the SD?
Thanks

QUOTE (andy_foster @ Sun, 5 Jun 2016 - 13:59) *
QUOTE (Pinkcat @ Sun, 5 Jun 2016 - 13:15) *
Sorry, my mistake. The SD date is indeed the 21st June, not May. The initial offence was in Milton Keynes (which is where I live) but for some reason the conviction has come through Oxford court.


The real issue is the s. 172 which, as it is an offence of omission, is deemed to have been committed at the address the information should have been provided at.


Both my past and current address are in MK so not sure where the link is to Oxford. I assumed that maybe they control the road on which the speeding offence took place, although this was also in MK.

QUOTE (southpaw82 @ Sun, 5 Jun 2016 - 15:35) *
If asked to plea, a not guilty plea followed by talking to the CPS may well be in order. Pleading guilty to the s. 172 after having done an SD to get that conviction removed is somewhat redundant.


This is what I thought. Surely a guilty plea at best might just knock a bit off the fine but is still going to leave me with an MS90 conviction.

Am I likely to get the chance to talk to the CPS when I make my SD or do you mean that I should try to do this when I get a trial date set at Oxford? If I plead not guilty on the 21st and I then get a trial date on another occasion, is there a good chance that I would be found guilty and end up facing court costs on top of the initial fine?

Thanks
andy_foster
QUOTE (Pinkcat @ Sun, 5 Jun 2016 - 19:03) *
Both my past and current address are in MK so not sure where the link is to Oxford. I assumed that maybe they control the road on which the speeding offence took place, although this was also in MK.


The subject to any defence, the offence is committed when at the expiration of the 28 days beginning with the date of service of the notice, the required information is not delivered to the address specified in the notice - which IIRC is in Kidlington (near enough Oxford). The trial would be heard at one of the linked courts near there.
southpaw82
QUOTE (Pinkcat @ Sun, 5 Jun 2016 - 19:03) *
Am I likely to get the chance to talk to the CPS when I make my SD or do you mean that I should try to do this when I get a trial date set at Oxford? If I plead not guilty on the 21st and I then get a trial date on another occasion, is there a good chance that I would be found guilty and end up facing court costs on top of the initial fine?

You will be able to speak to the prosecutor, probably at any trial, probably before trial if you call them up after your SD is made and the case is referred back to them, probably not at your SD. If you plead not guilty, they reject your plea deal, and you're convicted you will face court costs in excess of the standard £85, yes. However, unless you act like an arse to the prosecutor I've not known a plea deal to be rejected.
Pinkcat
Thank you. I intend to be fully co-operative and polite, don't worry. My main concern in the mean time was that I had read on some similar posts that people were being advised not to give their SD at court as this could make it more difficult to enter into a plea deal and that it would be better to do the SD through a solicitor. Can anyone advise specifically on this?
southpaw82
If you do it at court it's free. The court may proceed straight to taking a plea after you make your statutory declaration. This shouldn't present you with any difficulty if you're pleading not guilty, as the matter will then need to be adjourned for trial.

If you do the SD at a solicitor's office it will cost you a modest sum but the court won't be able to take a plea off you because you won't be present. There is anecdotal evidence that some courts refuse SDs not made in front of them. I'm not aware of any lawful grounds for them to do this.
Pinkcat
QUOTE (southpaw82 @ Sun, 5 Jun 2016 - 23:50) *
If you do it at court it's free. The court may proceed straight to taking a plea after you make your statutory declaration. This shouldn't present you with any difficulty if you're pleading not guilty, as the matter will then need to be adjourned for trial.

If you do the SD at a solicitor's office it will cost you a modest sum but the court won't be able to take a plea off you because you won't be present. There is anecdotal evidence that some courts refuse SDs not made in front of them. I'm not aware of any lawful grounds for them to do this.


Ok, thank you. I assume that the hope would then be that I would have the opportunity to try for a bargain when it then goes to trial?
I was told on the phone that the original speeding charges have been withdrawn. Am I right in thinking that this is likely because they were unable to convict of this without my admission of guilt and that they therefore convicted with the MS90 instead? When the case is adjourned for trial, is it normal for both offences to be on the summons or just the MS90?
Gan
Even if they're not, the courts would still prefer to convict and sentence the underlying offence.

There have been several threads where they've substituted the charge in the interest of justice

Just to be clear, if charged with both offences, plead Not Guilty to both and only change the speeding plea if you have a deal
Pinkcat
Just a quick update - I spoke with a motoring solicitor this afternoon who was very helpful and gave me some free telephone advice. However, her view was that as the speeding offence was over 6 months ago, I was unlikely to be offered a plea bargain for the MS90 as the police would have to ask the permission of the court to change the charge and they are reluctant to do this. Does anyone have any advice on whether this is indeed the case? Have other people in a similar position who negotiated a successful plea bargain been in the situation where the original speeding offence was more recent?

Also, her advice to me was that if I was unable to negotiate a deal, then I should plead guilty to the MS90 as this would probably reduce the fine. Whereas going to trial would be unlikely to succeed as my defence is weak due to not updating my V5 and therefore could likely result in a guilty verdict, higher fine and costs. What do you think?

I'm now really torn. Part of me just wants this over and done with quickly and if I'm unlikely to get rid of the MS90 conviction anyway, it would certainly be easier to attend court in Luton on the 21st, give my SD, plead guilty and get it done with. Whereas pleading not guilty would mean a summons to Oxford, a day off work unpaid and quite possibly a disappointing result at the end of all this. Any thoughts?
Jlc
Yes, we have seen 'out of time' speeding charges introduced for a plea bargain. Do you know the original charges? (As it's fairly common to dual list but can only convict the s172 in absence). There wouldn't be an issue if the speeding charge was on the charge sheet originally.
d123
You've had advice of what has happened in the past, you only have to look to Gan's post directly before yours to see an example...
Pinkcat
QUOTE (Jlc @ Mon, 6 Jun 2016 - 21:54) *
Yes, we have seen 'out of time' speeding charges introduced for a plea bargain. Do you know the original charges? (As it's fairly common to dual list but can only convict the s172 in absence). There wouldn't be an issue if the speeding charge was on the charge sheet originally.


I've not seen any of the paper work so can only go on what I was told by Oxford court over the phone. They gave me details on the original offence and stated that the speeding charge was withdrawn - I don't know when this happened or whether it was on the original charge sheet.
southpaw82
If it was withdrawn it must have been on the original information in order for it to be withdrawn.
andy_foster
QUOTE (Pinkcat @ Mon, 6 Jun 2016 - 07:21) *
I was told on the phone that the original speeding charges have been withdrawn.


QUOTE (Pinkcat @ Mon, 6 Jun 2016 - 21:40) *
Just a quick update - I spoke with a motoring solicitor this afternoon who was very helpful and gave me some free telephone advice. However, her view was that as the speeding offence was over 6 months ago, I was unlikely to be offered a plea bargain for the MS90 as the police would have to ask the permission of the court to change the charge and they are reluctant to do this.


It depends on the facts behind what you were told about the speeding charge. In simple terms, if the original summons(es)/requisition(s) included both charges, there there is no obstacle to doing a 'plea bargain', assuming that the prosecutor is happy to do so.

Unless you can add any further detail, all we can be sure of from your report of the conversation is that you were not convicted of speeding. This is not exactly news as it would be nigh on impossible to convict you of speeding without evidence of who was driving. Also, it is unlikely that the person you spoke to was legally qualified. For the speeding charge to be withdrawn, in the legal sense, it would have to have been included in the summons(es)/requisition(s) - but unqualified court staff don't always use precisely correct legal terminology.
Pinkcat
QUOTE (southpaw82 @ Mon, 6 Jun 2016 - 22:51) *
If it was withdrawn it must have been on the original information in order for it to be withdrawn.


So I take it that is good news?

I'm thinking that I might be better off making a SD through a solicitor so that I don't have to enter a plea and then hoping to meet with the prosecutor before a trial hearing at the original court - Oxford. That way, I will hopefully have the option of pleading guilty if no deal is offered rather than having to risk a higher fine and costs. Thoughts?

The Rookie
It is good news yes.
Gan
That way, I will hopefully have the option of pleading guilty if no deal is offered rather than having to risk a higher fine and costs. Thoughts?

The higher fine and costs are nothing compared to the increased insurance premiums for the next five years

Insurance companies will wonder what you must have done that made you decide not to reveal the driver

You never plead Guilty if you have the slightest hope of success

It also defeats the entire purpose of the Statutory Declaration which was to remove the conviction
Pinkcat
QUOTE (Gan @ Tue, 7 Jun 2016 - 08:16) *
That way, I will hopefully have the option of pleading guilty if no deal is offered rather than having to risk a higher fine and costs. Thoughts?

The higher fine and costs are nothing compared to the increased insurance premiums for the next five years

Insurance companies will wonder what you must have done that made you decide not to reveal the driver

You never plead Guilty if you have the slightest hope of success

It also defeats the entire purpose of the Statutory Declaration which was to remove the conviction



But do I have a hope of success with a not guilty plea as my defence is so weak? Or is my only hope a plea bargain. Am I right in thinking that I have a better chance of getting this if I do the SD with a solicitor and then attend the original convicting court for a new hearing?
Pinkcat
I posted on here a while ago asking for advice as I had been convicted of an MS90 offence without my knowledge due to me failing to update my V5 and therefore not receiving a NIP for a speeding offence.

The speeding offence was committed in June last year.

I made a statutory declaration last week with a solicitor and sent it to Oxfordshire Magistrates Court where the initial conviction was processed. They have now sent me a summons for a new hearing on 7th July. On the summons, it lists both offences - the speeding and the MS90.

Having read similar posts on here, I am hoping to be able to negotiate a plea bargain and accept the speeding conviction in exchange for them dropping the MS90. However, the court has asked me to return the paperwork with the summons indicating how I wish to plead to both offences. I am given the option of pleading guilty by post, guilty at court or not guilty. It tells me that if I plead not guilty, I should NOT attend the hearing and instead will be sent details of a new trial hearing.

What do I do? How do I plead?
Or what happens if I just ignore the letter and attend the hearing in person? It says in the letter that if I fail to reply or to attend, the court will convict me in my absence but what happens if I just attend the hearing without submitting any plea in writing?

Thanks for any advice.
Jlc
They will have only allocated enough time to deal with a guilty plea on that given day.

Therefore, you turn up early, see the prosecutor prior to the start of the day's events to offer to plead guilty to the underlying offence if they would drop the s172 charge - it is almost certain they'll be prepared to do that. But you must attend - and it may take all day I'm afraid.

This cannot be reliably done via post. If you do submit any NG plea's in advance then they'll adjourn and you don't want to submit G pleas to both offences!
Pinkcat
QUOTE (Jlc @ Mon, 20 Jun 2016 - 16:51) *
They will have only allocated enough time to deal with a guilty plea on that given day.

Therefore, you turn up early, see the prosecutor prior to the start of the day's events to offer to plead guilty to the underlying offence if they would drop the s172 charge - it is almost certain they'll be prepared to do that. But you must attend - and it may take all day I'm afraid.

This cannot be reliably done via post. If you do submit any NG plea's in advance then they'll adjourn and you don't want to submit G pleas to both offences!


I understand this but what do I do about the paperwork then? They are asking me to return it at least 3 days before the hearing and tick a box for each offence to say whether I plead guilty or not guilty.

southpaw82
QUOTE (Pinkcat @ Mon, 20 Jun 2016 - 16:57) *
QUOTE (Jlc @ Mon, 20 Jun 2016 - 16:51) *
They will have only allocated enough time to deal with a guilty plea on that given day.

Therefore, you turn up early, see the prosecutor prior to the start of the day's events to offer to plead guilty to the underlying offence if they would drop the s172 charge - it is almost certain they'll be prepared to do that. But you must attend - and it may take all day I'm afraid.

This cannot be reliably done via post. If you do submit any NG plea's in advance then they'll adjourn and you don't want to submit G pleas to both offences!


I understand this but what do I do about the paperwork then? They are asking me to return it at least 3 days before the hearing and tick a box for each offence to say whether I plead guilty or not guilty.

They have indicated that you may simply attend on the day - do that.

Also, one case, one thread, please (as per your joining email).
Pinkcat
QUOTE (southpaw82 @ Mon, 20 Jun 2016 - 17:03) *
QUOTE (Pinkcat @ Mon, 20 Jun 2016 - 16:57) *
QUOTE (Jlc @ Mon, 20 Jun 2016 - 16:51) *
They will have only allocated enough time to deal with a guilty plea on that given day.

Therefore, you turn up early, see the prosecutor prior to the start of the day's events to offer to plead guilty to the underlying offence if they would drop the s172 charge - it is almost certain they'll be prepared to do that. But you must attend - and it may take all day I'm afraid.

This cannot be reliably done via post. If you do submit any NG plea's in advance then they'll adjourn and you don't want to submit G pleas to both offences!


I understand this but what do I do about the paperwork then? They are asking me to return it at least 3 days before the hearing and tick a box for each offence to say whether I plead guilty or not guilty.

They have indicated that you may simply attend on the day - do that.

Also, one case, one thread, please (as per your joining email).


On the letter I received, they have not said that I can just attend on the day. They have asked me to return a plea by post 3 days in advance of the hearing to indicate how I intend to plead.
southpaw82
And they've said you'll only be convicted in your absence if you do neither - so you can simply attend on the day. Or plead not guilty to both. Whatever floats your boat.
Jlc
QUOTE (Pinkcat @ Mon, 20 Jun 2016 - 16:41) *
It says in the letter that if I fail to reply or to attend, the court will convict me in my absence

I read that as you either reply or attend. (But if you fail to do either then you will be convicted in absence).

Ergo, you can attend without entering a postal plea in advance. If you want to enter a postal plea (you don't) then you must do so in good time. But it would be pretty pointless to attend to enter a NG plea as they'd just adjourn...

So you attend, do the 'deal', be sentenced and go.
Pinkcat
QUOTE (Jlc @ Mon, 20 Jun 2016 - 17:11) *
QUOTE (Pinkcat @ Mon, 20 Jun 2016 - 16:41) *
It says in the letter that if I fail to reply or to attend, the court will convict me in my absence

I read that as you either reply or attend. (But if you fail to do either then you will be convicted in absence).

Ergo, you can attend without entering a postal plea in advance. If you want to enter a postal plea (you don't) then you must do so in good time. But it would be pretty pointless to attend to enter a NG plea as they'd just adjourn...

So you attend, do the 'deal', be sentenced and go.


Ok, that's what I was hoping but was worried about ignoring the letter when they have asked me to reply.
The time of the hearing I have been given is 2pm. Is this immediately after lunch? What time would I advise that I get there?
The Rookie
Personally I'd send a not guilty plea to both charges by post, this is for the sole purpose of covering you if something unforeseen prevents your attendance on the day, if you attend the postal plea will be ignored.
Pinkcat
QUOTE (The Rookie @ Mon, 20 Jun 2016 - 20:25) *
Personally I'd send a not guilty plea to both charges by post, this is for the sole purpose of covering you if something unforeseen prevents your attendance on the day, if you attend the postal plea will be ignored.


But if I do this, the hearing will be cancelled and a new trial date set. Wouldn't I then lose the chance to get discount for an early guilty plea if the CPS are unwilling to do a deal?

The Rookie
No the hearing won't be cancelled as the plea won't be entered until the hearing.....and you'll be there!

Why do you say it WILL be cancelled?
Pinkcat
QUOTE (The Rookie @ Mon, 20 Jun 2016 - 21:35) *
No the hearing won't be cancelled as the plea won't be entered until the hearing.....and you'll be there!

Why do you say it WILL be cancelled?


Because it says on the paperwork that if I am pleading not guilty then I should not attend the hearing and that a trial will be set for another date.
Pinkcat
Might it be worth trying to contact the CPS tomorrow to see whether there is any chance of negotiating a plea in advance of the hearing? Has anyone every had success doing it that way?
southpaw82
QUOTE (Pinkcat @ Mon, 20 Jun 2016 - 21:57) *
QUOTE (The Rookie @ Mon, 20 Jun 2016 - 21:35) *
No the hearing won't be cancelled as the plea won't be entered until the hearing.....and you'll be there!

Why do you say it WILL be cancelled?


Because it says on the paperwork that if I am pleading not guilty then I should not attend the hearing and that a trial will be set for another date.

That's... why... you... attend...
Pinkcat
QUOTE (southpaw82 @ Mon, 20 Jun 2016 - 22:13) *
QUOTE (Pinkcat @ Mon, 20 Jun 2016 - 21:57) *
QUOTE (The Rookie @ Mon, 20 Jun 2016 - 21:35) *
No the hearing won't be cancelled as the plea won't be entered until the hearing.....and you'll be there!

Why do you say it WILL be cancelled?


Because it says on the paperwork that if I am pleading not guilty then I should not attend the hearing and that a trial will be set for another date.

That's... why... you... attend...


So plead 'not guilty' and then attend even when they have advised me not to? Then see if I can change my plea on the day? Will the hearing still take place anyway then or could I find that it has been rescheduled for trial before I even get there? Don't want to take a day off work for nothing.
southpaw82
Your postal plea will be read out at the hearing unless you attend. Your attendance renders the postal plea null and void.
The Rookie
QUOTE (Pinkcat @ Mon, 20 Jun 2016 - 22:09) *
Might it be worth trying to contact the CPS tomorrow to see whether there is any chance of negotiating a plea in advance of the hearing? Has anyone every had success doing it that way?

Really bad idea, you will struggle to speak to the right person and then risk sending in a guilty plea for speeding and them thanking you for that and setting a date to try the S172.
Pinkcat
Spoke to a motoring solicitor this morning whose advice was to plead guilty on the paperwork to both offences and then write a letter of mitigation and she thought that it was likely that they would drop the S172 offence. Surely this is a very risky strategy though as there is a good chance that they could just take it as an easy way to convict me for both?
Jlc
QUOTE (Pinkcat @ Tue, 21 Jun 2016 - 12:34) *
Spoke to a motoring solicitor this morning whose advice was to plead guilty on the paperwork to both offences and then write a letter of mitigation and she thought that it was likely that they would drop the S172 offence. Surely this is a very risky strategy though as there is a good chance that they could just take it as an easy way to convict me for both?

Hello 9 points. At the very worst why would you plead guilty to an offence they have no evidence to convict? (Which is why the plea bargain works)
Pinkcat
QUOTE (Jlc @ Tue, 21 Jun 2016 - 12:34) *
Hello 9 points. At the very worst why would you plead guilty to an offence they have no evidence to convict? (Which is why the plea bargain works)


Those were my thoughts exactly. She seemed to think it would be difficult for a lay person to negotiate a bargain with the CPS. Alternative was to pay for representation and they would then negotiate for a plea bargain with the CPS in advance of my hearing.
The Rookie
Typical bl**dy professional, we've had dozens of lay people successfully do this deal and not had to pay anyone, as for advising pleading guilty to both - that's worthy of a complaint to the SRA!

Sounds like a rip off merchant!
southpaw82
QUOTE (Pinkcat @ Tue, 21 Jun 2016 - 12:34) *
Spoke to a motoring solicitor this morning whose advice was to plead guilty on the paperwork to both offences and then write a letter of mitigation and she thought that it was likely that they would drop the S172 offence. Surely this is a very risky strategy though as there is a good chance that they could just take it as an easy way to convict me for both?

I'm not trying to be rude here, I'm really not, but you've been given good advice here yet you seem to want to do anything but what you've been advised to do. Why?
Pinkcat
I'm sorry. I'm not ignoring any of the advice that I have had on here and I am very grateful to everyone who has taken the time to offer it. I am simply finding the whole thing very stressful and confusing, especially when I seek professional advice which seems to contradict what I am being told.

Everything that has been said on here seems to make sense to me and I plan to attend the hearing on 7th July and keep my fingers crossed that I am able to speak to a prosecutor and do a deal on the day.

Could I please just clarify 2 points:

1. If my hearing is set for 2pm, what time should I arrive in order to be early enough to speak to a Prosecutor?

2. Should I return the paperwork with a 'not guilty' plea or not return the paperwork but contact the court to let them know that I will be attending?

Thanks again and sorry for all the questions.
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