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Jo C.
Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69252
Experience:  Over 5 years in practice
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Is it an offence to plead guilty to an offence that you have

Customer Question

Is it an offence to plead guilty to an offence that you have not actually committed?
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.

Thank you for your question. My name is XXXXX XXXXX I will try to help with this.

Not generally but there might be for you here. You can plead guilty for any reason you like. People often plead guilty to protect others from a charge and there is nothing unlawful in that.

What you cannot do though is say anything untrue in mitigation. You cannot start saying that you did or did not commit the offence. You cannot say you did not because you have pleaded guilty which you can't do on the basis that you are innocent obviously. You cannot say that you did commit the offence since you did not.

There are ways around this. Usually the way to address a court is to comment upon the crown's case taken at its highest and make the aggravating and mitigating points arising from that.

However, the problem here is this. I suspect you are suggesting completing a S172 form falsely naming yourself as the driver rather than pleading guilty at court? If so, then that does amount to perverting the course of justice and people go to prison for that on first offences.

Its one thing to plead guilty to a charge already brought and say nothing untrue in mitigation. Its another to fill out a S172 form falsely.

Can I clarify anything for you?

Jo C., Barrister
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 69252
Experience: Over 5 years in practice
Jo C. and other Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Thanks for advice thus far. I will clarify the position - I was asking on behalf of a friend (Sarah Baker) who is uncertain what to do. She did fill in a S172 form, giving her name as the driver, but she sent this in with a letter saying she didnt have an alternative as she could not identify the driver for the reasons I have explained.....the South Wales Police then rejected her correspondence as "it cannot be accepted as evidence upon which to continue the Fixed Penalty process". The matter was then handed placed in the Court file for prosecution....etc.


The letter from South Wales Police comments that "the keeper shall not be guilty of any offence if he or she can prove that reasonable diligence was used to attempt the required identification, as per s172(4)".


I would like to know (please!) what constitutes reasonable due diligence in this case given the following:-


1. The traffic light offence was committed on 12th September 2013.

2. Notice of Intended Prosecution (with a driver information form) was not served until 21st November 2013.

3. The car was in a pool during the day and no log was then kept of staff usage during the day. Miss Baker however spoke to all members of staff who were entitled to use the car and none could specifically recall using it on that date, which by then was a couple of months before. In each case their diaries were checked for appointments and so on. Use of pool cars at her office was apparently commonplace. Witness statements could be provided to confirm all this. Would this be all constitute "reasonable due diligence"?

4. Also, please note that she does have a credible witness to the fact that could could not have used the car at that time herself.

Finally, as the Police have already confirmed "there is no identified driver with whom to deal" (their letter January 7th), can they still proceed with the traffic light offence which is still listed on the Plea Form?

Thanks.....I await your wise counsel.







Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
Why was there no log kept? Obviously you need to convince the court of this and they may find that hard to accept
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

Miss Baker is the manager of the office where there are 8 other staff. It is a busy recruitment agency. There was one other car in the pool with hers, and the staff had to use either of these when out and about. There was no log at the time because it was not thought necessary in a relatively small office, although a log is now kept.


Any view on how this would go down in court?


Also, did you have a look at my last question - can the prosecution for the traffic light still go ahead?


Thank you

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
It is always difficult to run reasonable diligence.

There are many problems with it. One is that many people do run it falsely and so it becomes hard for anybody to run it in earnest. Another is that magistrates are generally biased in favour of the prosecution. However, sometimes you can win.

The fact that the nip was not served until November changes very little probably. They are probably saying that it went to the registered keeper 1st. That would comply with the law. Obviously, the fact that the nip reached her 2 months after the event may be used to argue that it was harder for her to recall who would have been the driver.

The problem with that is that the law doesn't really require you to remember who was driving. What it requires you to do is investigate and ascertain who was driving.

What they're going to find very difficult to accept here is the proposition that this office keeps no logs at all. If I give you an extreme example then it might illustrate the point. People are always saying they can't remember who the driver was. The truth is that if the allegation against the driver were, for instance, that he'd been seen hanging around outside primary schools trying to abduct young children then the registered keeper would find out fast enough who the driver was and the only difference between that circumstance and the one often before the court is the seriousness of the offence.

If this office is run on that basis then you're then I have to prove it. Witness statements are complete waste of time. People need to attend court to give evidence otherwise the Crown just will not accept them.

Whether or not she was the driver is a nonissue now. They will have charged her with the red light offence in the alternative. They have no evidence that she was the driver and that offence will fall way
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

We are going to think about this overnight. Thank you for your advice thus far.


Best regards.

Expert:  Jo C. replied 2 years ago.
No problem and all the best.

Remember that I am always available to help with your questions. Even if I am in Court I will usually pick up a question within 12 hours. For future information, please start your question with ‘For Jo C’. You can also bookmark my profile

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