Pleading not guilty in writing
If you have received a Court Attendance Notice (CAN) and you can't go to the mention, you may be able to plead not guilty in writing. You can do this by filling out a form called a 'Written Notice of Pleading' and sending it to the Court at least seven days before your court date.
Before pleading not guilty in writing, you should get
legal advice. The Court may not accept your written plea and may want you to come to court instead.
Who can plead not guilty in writing?
You can use a Written Notice of Pleading to plead not guilty if:
- you were released without bail, or
- you have elected to go to court.
You can’t file a Written Notice of Pleading if you are on bail, have been refused bail or your bail has been dispensed with. If you are on bail and you can’t attend court in person, you may be able to appear by audio visual link (AVL) or telephone. If you are on bail and you have a lawyer, you may not have to attend court if your lawyer appears on your behalf.
If you are unsure whether you have to attend court, you should get legal advice. If you are required to attend court and you don’t, your case may be decided in your absence or a warrant may be issued for your arrest.
How do you plead not guilty in writing?
A Written Notice of Pleading is a form that tells the Court that you want to plead guilty or not guilty.
If you plead not guilty in writing, you won't need to go the mention but you will have to go to the hearing.
When the Court gets your Written Notice of Pleading, it may:
- adjourn your case and give you another date to attend court
- make orders for the police to serve you with a brief of evidence (documents that make up the evidence against you) and give you a reply date
- give you a hearing date, if no brief of evidence is required.
You can also send a letter or email to the Court to plead not guilty, instead of using the form. The Court has the power to decide whether any letter or email you have sent will be taken as a Written Notice of Pleading.
How do you fill in a Written Notice of Pleading?
A blank form may be sent to you with your CAN. You can also get a copy from:
- your nearest Local Court registry, or
- the Forms page on the Local Court of NSW website.
If you use a Written Notice of Pleading to plead not guilty, you will need to include the following:
- your name
- the details of the offence listed on your CAN
- the name and address of the Court you are required to attend
- the date you are required to attend court
- the number of witnesses you intend to use
- any dates that you are unavailable in the three month period after the mention
- your contact details, such as email and phone numbers
- whether or not you have a lawyer.
You don’t need to sign your form in front of an authorised witness.
Instructions for filling out a Written Notice of Pleading - pleading not guilty
Sample: Written Notice of Pleading - pleading not guilty
How do you file a Written Notice of Pleading?
You can file your completed form with the registry of the Court that is hearing your case:
- in person
- by email
- by post, or
- by fax.
You should send your Written Notice of Pleading to the Courts postal address, not the street address that appears on your CAN. You can find the Courts postal address on the Court locations, listing and sitting arrangements page on the Local Court of NSW website.
After you have filed your completed form, you should call the registry to check that it was received and placed on your file.
You must make sure the Court has your Written Notice of Pleading at least seven days before the mention date. If you send it any later and do not attend Court, your case may be heard in your absence (without you) and the Court may find you guilty.
Can the Court reject a Written Notice of Pleading?
The Court may reject your Written Notice of Pleading if:
- you have not provided enough information to the Court, or
- the Court does not want to list your case for a hearing without you being there.
If the Court rejects your Written Notice of Pleading, your case may be adjourned (postponed) and you will be notified that you are required to attend court in person on the next occasion.
If you do not go to court on the new date, your case may be heard without you and a warrant may be issued for your arrest.
What happens next?
The Court will notify you of the date that your case will be heard.
You will be notified by email if you elected to be notified by email in your Written Notice of Pleading. If you didn’t elect to be notified by email, the Court will send you a letter by post.
If you want to know sooner, you can call the court registry.
Before the hearing date you should start preparing your case. For more information, see
Preparing for the hearing.