A recent case has shown the when served with a summons, the defendant should consider the matter carefully before submitting a guilty plea.
The defendant had pleaded guilty by post to a driving offence. He then received notification that the case had been adjourned for the magistrates to consider whether or not they should impose a disqualification order. This is sometimes the case in cases of careless driving. At the adjourned hearing the defendant told the magistrates that he wanted to change his plea to that of not guilty on the basis that his written plea of guilty was no longer effective. His argument was that the adjourned hearing was a resumption of the trial and that the defendant is able to change his plea at any time during the course of the trial up until conviction. It was held that the “resumption” referred to in the Magistrates’ Courts Act 1980 was a resumption following conviction. There was no automatic right to change plea at the adjourned hearing.
The case highlighted the fact that it is well worth obtaining legal advice as to how to plead and also as to the consequences.