Pleading guilty in writing
If you want to plead guilty, but you can't attend court on the date in your Court Attendance Notice (CAN), you may be able to fill out a Written Notice of Pleading.
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, the Court may decide your case without considering it.
Who can plead guilty in writing?
You can use a Written Notice of Pleading to plead 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 to complete 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 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 your CAN says you are required to attend
- the date your CAN says you are required to attend court
- information about how and why the offence happened
- information about yourself, including your financial situation, your character and personal circumstances
- character references
- any other relevant documents, for example, medical reports.
If you do not include this information in your Written Notice of Pleading, the Court may sentence you without taking any of these issues into account.
You don’t need to sign your form in front of an authorised witness.
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 sent 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.
Instructions: Instructions for filling out a Written Notice of Pleading - Pleading guilty
Sample: Written Notice of Pleading - Pleading guilty
Can the Court reject a Written Notice of Pleading?
The Court may reject your Written Notice of Pleading if:
- the explanation you have provided shows that you disagree with the facts presented by the prosecution
- the explanation you provided suggests that you may have a defence, or
- it does not want to decide your case without you being there.
If the Court rejects your Written Notice of Pleading, your case will 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 or a warrant may be issued for your arrest.
What happens next?
The Court will notify you of its decision in response to your guilty plea, including any sentence you have been given.
You will be notified by email if you elected to be 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 the decision sooner, you can call the court registry.
If you are not happy with the Court's decision, you may be able to appeal to the District Court within 28 days of the date of the decision.
For more information, see