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If you have received a Court Attendance Notice (CAN), in some cases you may be able to plead guilty in writing instead of going to court. One option is to fill a form called a 'Written Notice of Pleading' and send it to the court at least seven days before your court date.
Different discounts on penalty apply depending on the type of offence you have been charged with and what stage you have pleaded guilty. You should get legal advice about your specific situation and what the benefit would be in pleading guilty.
Before pleading guilty in writing, you should get
legal advice. The court may not accept it and may want you to come to court instead.
You cannot do a written notice of pleading if you are on bail. You must attend court.
A Written Notice of Pleading is a form that tells the court that you want to plead guilty or not guilty. If you plead guilty in writing, the magistrate will make a decision based on what you write in the form and any other documents or information you provide.
You might want to plead guilty in writing if you can't get to court on the date in the court attendance notice. For example, you may:
If you disagree with anything in the Police Facts Sheet and want it changed you may not get the chance to talk to the police prosecutor about it if you do a written notice of pleading.
A blank Written Notice of Pleading may be sent to you with your CAN. If you have not received a Written Notice of Pleading form, you can get a copy from:
If you use a Written Notice of Pleading to plead guilty, you will need to include:
You should also attach:
If possible it is better to go to court to plead guilty. If you go to court you can explain your version of events to the magistrate and you can answer any other questions they may have.
Instructions: Instructions for filling out a written notice of pleading - pleading guilty.
Sample written notice of pleading - pleading guilty.
After you complete the form you should:
A Written Notice of Pleading should be received by the court listed on your CAN at least seven days before the mention. If they receive it any later, the court may decide to sentence you without considering it.
The court may reject a plea of guilty if:
After your court date, the court registry will send you a letter notifying you of the decision made by the magistrate. If you want to know the decision sooner, you can call the court registry and ask a court officer.
If the court accepted your written notice of pleading but you are not happy with your sentence, you can appeal the decision to the District Court.
You have 28 days from the date of the decision to appeal to the district court. You should get
legal advice before appealing.
For information about how to get character references and a full list of things you can ask the court to consider, see Preparing for court.