Mitigation takes place following conviction or a guilty plea. One of the most important skills any defence solicitor or barrister should possess is the ability to present an eloquent plea of mitigation on behalf of his/her client. The purpose is to reduce the punishment imposed.
You don’t have to instruct a solicitor or barrister to present a plea of mitigation and you can do the job yourself. However, when your licence is at risk, you would be well advised to question the wisdom of such DIY!
Speeding Mitigation Letter
Remember that a plea of mitigation has no relevance if you decide to accept a Fixed Penalty Notice (FPN). You either accept the speeding FPN or go to court where, of course, a plea of mitigation can be made by you, your solicitor or barrister. In many cases, you may be able to put your plea of mitigation in the form of a letter which will be read to the Magistrates by their clerk before sentence. Sending a letter means you don’t have to attend the court. However, bear in mind that such a letter needs to be carefully drafted, it must cover all the relevant points and it should not be too wordy!
It’s important you place enough details in the speeding mitigation letter to state your case clearly and concisely. A well thought out, detailed plea of mitigation has an excellent chance of reducing the penalty for speeding. How the letter is written is extremely important and it’s best to get solid advice before stating your case. A good speeding mitigation letter will cover all relevant facts and state your case as to why you feel the penalty should be reduced. If it’s written in a compelling way then you have a good chance of getting your fine or penalty reduced.
To describe what can be done to reduce your speeding punishment as a ‘loophole’ would be incorrect. Your barrister or solicitor will not be putting forward a defence but asking the court to be merciful. A prime example of this is where ‘Exceptional Hardship’ is put forward to avoid penalty points (‘totting’) disqualification.
If you reach 9 or more points within a 3 year period, and the police have evidence of another speeding or similar offence (carrying obligatory endorsement), then you will be summonsed to attend court. If you are eventually found guilty or plead guilty then, after the prosecuting lawyer has read the facts to the court, you will be disqualified for a minimum of 6 months. However, such a ban can be avoided or reduced if the court decides that you would suffer ‘Exceptional Hardship’ as a result.
Clearly, any driving ban will cause hardship especially if it means loss of employment. However, where you can demonstrate that the ‘hardship’ is ‘exceptional’ then the court will either decline to disqualify you or reduce the length of the disqualification. For example, if the loss of your employment following a driving ban might lead to the loss of your home, or your children having to be taken out of private education, or your business going under and your employees being made redundant then you might well succeed in persuading the court that you would suffer ‘exceptional hardship’.
Putting forward a properly constructed ‘exceptional hardship’ mitigation is one of the primary skills of a barrister or solicitor motoring and speeding specialist. He/she will advise you about the sort of material which will be required by the court and may produce a folder of relevant documents for the benefit of the Magistrates. A professional presentation can mean the difference between keeping or losing your licence!