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Sydney NSW 2000
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Police often convey to offenders that they can complete the written notice instead of attending court. While technically true, it is not advisable. Not only does it reflect poorly on the person being sentenced but they can be convicted and sentenced in their absence with little chance to advocate their case.
The form does not need to be completed, but can be if the person is unable to attend court. Alternatively, you can call the Local Court Registry at which your matter is listed or write to the court if you are unable to attend.
In NSW Police are able to provide people who have committed certain offences with a document called a ‘Written Notice of Pleading’. The written notice of pleading is usually contained on a yellow slip. It is a form that can be sent to the court as an alternative to attending in person. Essentially, the form asks a person to indicate to the court whether they are pleading guilty or not guilty to the offence with which they are charged and provide the court with further information about their matter.
The form seems straight forward and can seem to be an attractive alternative to attending court in person. However using them can be a very bad idea.
It is important to be wary of Police that convey to you that they you can simply complete the written notice instead of attending court. While technically true, it is not advisable. Not only does it reflect poorly on you but you can be convicted and sentenced in your absence with little chance to advocate your case.
Usually the Magistrate will only have the police facts, criminal record and the words on the yellow slip. The biggest disadvantage of submitting a written pleading is that the Magistrate is unable to ask any questions they may have about you they are sentencing or about the offence itself. The court does not hear about why the offence happened and does not learn about your personal circumstances. Further, the court does not have the benefit of subjective materials including character references, letters of remorse or medical reports.
It is very difficult to get the best possible result by filling in a Written Notice of Pleading.
It is not uncommon to hear an offender charged with Possess Prohibited Drug remark that Police told them to fill out the form and they won’t get a criminal record without having to go to court. This is not always the case as some offenders will be convicted and fined in their absence.
The decision is yours and yours only.
That being said, the best way to increase the chance of obtaining the best possible result is seeking legal representation who will liaise with police and prosecution, negotiate the facts or charge if required, assist you in the preparation of subjective materials and make submissions on your behalf on sentence.
If you wish to plead not guilty to the offence you need to complete the sections on the form that asks for the number of witnesses you require and any dates that you are unavailable to attend court.
If you wish to plead guilty to the offence you are required to complete the part of the form that asks you to explain why the offence happened and give some information about yourself, your financial situation, personal circumstances and general character’.
After you submit a written notice of pleading and your court date passes, you will be contacted by the court to inform you of the outcome.
Some Magistrates will require offenders to attend court instead of dealing with the matter in their absence. In this case, you will be notified of a later date in which you are to attend court.
If you have entered a plea of not guilty and the Magistrate proceeds to deal with your matter, they will set down a date for your hearing. They will also allocate a duration for the hearing.
If you have entered a plea of guilty and the Magistrate proceeds to deal with your matter, they will sentence you in your absence.
If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.