The most crucial thing to understand is that you should respond to the SJPN before the deadline. You have only 21 days from the date shown on the notice (this is the date it was issued or sent to you).
The deadline to respond to the SJPN cannot be extended.
Now companies can receive a SJPN for less serious offences like having the wrong kind of operator's licence. The process is the same as for individuals, which is who this guide is aimed at. We suggest that companies pay for legal advice in they possibly can before submitting their plea.
If you do not respond before the deadline, you will have missed the chance to enter a ‘not guilty’ plea and you will be assumed to be guilty. You will also have missed the opportunity to plead guilty and explain any mitigating factors, or to receive a reduced fine, and you may be asked to pay the fine in a lump sum that you cannot afford.
If you have any difficult personal circumstances, and you explain them, it is possible that the prosecuting authority (which might be TV licensing, the police, the local authority, Transport For London etc) may agree not to prosecute you. That is because prosecuting you has to be 'in the public interest'. To determine this they are supposed to consider things like if you were suffering from serious ill health or a mental health problem, have a learning disability, are a victim of abuse, or are already experiencing severe financial hardship.
Similarly, if the offence was committed due to a genuine mistake you should explain that as they may agree to not prosecute you.
We recommend that if any of the above apply to your situation, or did at the time the offence took place, you write to the prosecuting authority separately to formally ask them to drop the charges against you because of your exceptional circumstances. You should do this as well as responding to the SJPN because of the tight deadline.
What countries does this guide cover?
The information in this guide applies to England and Wales. There are different rules about cases in Scotland or Northern Ireland.
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