It is not uncommon for a driver to find out they have been convicted by a Court only after being found guilty. The first they know may be when they check their driving licence on line and see points have been added.
You may have moved address and not had post forwarded to you that had notified you of an intended prosecution or your car tax may have lapsed and the postal fine failed to reach you. These are typical scenarios.
A court can (in most motoring cases) convict a defendant in absence. If you fail to turn up at Court, the Prosecution can ask the Court to convict you on the papers alone. They can also proceed to sentence you and impose penalty points without hearing mitigation or seeing your level of income and outgoings.
If this happens to you , and you can satisfy the Court there has been a mistake, e.g. you did not know of the hearing due to an error, then you can make an application to have the case reopened.
Re reopening a case in the Magistrates court is by way of an application under s.142 of the Magistrates Courts Act. This can be used where there is an error or mistake. It requires an appearance in Court to make a Statutory Declaration (Swear on Oath) that you did not ever know of the court summons. The Magistrate’s will consider if it is in the interests of justice to allow the reopening and for the case to be re heard for trial or sentencing at a later date.
The Law states:
“Where a person is convicted by a magistrates’ court and it subsequently appears to the court that it would be in the interests of justice that the case should be heard again by different justices, the court may so direct.”
The purpose of s.142 of the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 is to rectify mistakes and should not be confused with Appealing against a Conviction or Sentence where you feel you have grounds to do so.
Our expert team of motoring lawyers support individuals and businesses facing Court proceedings and can be contacted on 01908 202150