Note: This post refers to the incident that took place in February where I was fined for walking my bike over a junction while the traffic light was red.
I’ve finally received my Summons from the Court. There are several things I’m learning about the justice system in even this most insignificant of cases:
- Being not guilty can be expensive
Had I, in the first instance acquiesced to the police officer and paid the fine, it would have cost me £30. The letter I have just received says,
If you plead guilty the prosecution will apply to the court for an order that you pay a contribution of £80 towards their costs. If you plead not guilty or do not enter a plea, and you are convicted of the offence, the sum applied for may be higher.
This open-ended figure is slightly worrying, as the case does come down to my word against the police officer’s. I wonder if I can claim the cost of the time I will have to take off work if I win.
The amusing thing is that it is to an extent understandable to provide financial incentives at every stage for potential defendants to opt out of a hearing to save the court time. But the letter specifically says, Nothing stated here is intended to persuade you to plead guilty. Riiiight
2. The police lie
I will quote exactly what the police have said once the case is over. At the moment, though, I suspect I am already on shaky legal ground just talking about this while it is happening. All I will say is that the police officer’s version of events differs significantly from my own.
3. The system is incredibly difficult to navigate
Initially, I sent a letter to the police, raising a number of points. In response I simply received a letter saying I would be given a court date, which did not acknowledge any of the points that I had made (nor has any subsequent letter).
In the letter that I received today, there is a section where the “witness statements” are presented to me. This only consists of the police officer’s statement, and there is no mention of my written response. I have no idea if the court have seen my letter to the police (though I suspect not). I also have no idea how I am expected to present evidence to the court. Do I reply to their letter with my statement about what occurred? Do I just turn up on the day? Is there another process? Who knows?! There are plenty of instructions about how and why to plead guilty, where I can enter mitigating circumstances and so on, but on how to plead not guilty the letter is mysteriously silent.
4. I need to work on my first impressions.
I am described by the officer as, of slim to proportionate build and 1.8m tall. The man [i.e. me] had long dark hair, was wearing a long, dark overcoat and was white with a sallow complexion.
After a description like that in the City, I’d be surprised if the judge doesn’t feel he can finally close the file on Jack the Ripper.
In any case, I will be pleading not guilty, forwarding the court my initial letter to the police as well as my objections to the police officer’s witness statement. If anyone has any advice on anything else I should do, or thinks I’m doing something wrong, please let me know!