Alan Cameron | Senior Associate

Driving offences: Guilty

Unlike Alice Cooper most people do not like to admit when they are Guilty, however it is important when charged with a crime that you are able to consider your defence without delay. This will allow you when satisfied of your guilt to tender your guilty plea to the court at your earliest opportunity.  The benefit to you is that if you plead guilty prior to the court determining your guilt then the court will  generally offer a discount on any sentence. However there are exceptions to this which was highlighted in a reason appeal court decision.

Immediately prior to the trial commencing the appellant tendered a plea of guilty to charges 1 and 3 on the complaint which was in the following terms: “(001) on the 11th February 2017 at 16 Blackhill Gardens, Glasgow, you SHAUN PATRICK DIVERS did take and drive away a motor vehicle, namely motorcar registered number S16 EJR without having either the consent of the owner thereof or other lawful authority; CONTRARY to the Road Traffic Act 1988, section 178(1)(a) (003) on the 11th February 2017 on a road or other public place, namely the northbound carriageway of the M80 Motorway at Moodiesburn, you SHAUN PATRICK DIVERS did drive a mechanically propelled vehicle, namely motorcar registered number S16 EJR without due care and attention or without reasonable consideration for other persons using the road or public place and did drive said vehicle from the offside lane into the nearside lane of said carriageway, collide with motor vehicle registered number SK62 WDX, then being driven there by Alan Merry, c/o the Police Service of Scotland, whereby said vehicle registered number SK62 WDX was damaged and said vehicle driven by you did swerve across the carriageway, repeatedly roll over and collide with a barrier there whereby said vehicle was damaged and you were injured; CONTRARY to the Road Traffic Act 1988, section 3 (As Amended)”

The appellant was sentenced by the court to fines of £150 and £600 on charges 1 and 3 respectively and was disqualified from holding or obtaining a driving licence for a period of one year.

The appeal was directed to the imposition of the period of disqualification and whether the sheriff ought to have moderated any penalty on account of his plea which avoided the trial proceeding.

The court stated :-

“ The question of discount remains to be considered. A plea immediately prior to trial cannot be described as an early plea. Nevertheless the court in Gemmell v HM Advocate (2012) SLT 484 and Murray v HM Advocate [2013] HCJAC 3 recognised that sparing complainers and other witnesses from giving evidence may in some circumstances justify discount. In many cases it is recognised that witnesses are not being spared an ordeal by not having to give evidence. Road Traffic cases such as this are a good example as many 4 witnesses are police officers. A plea immediately prior to trial in such cases would attract at most a token discount. Here the sheriff has considered the question of discount. She notes that witnesses which include a civilian witness were present at court and ready to give evidence. She did not consider it appropriate to grant any modification. Having regard to what was said in Gemmell and Others v HM Advocate (supra) it is important to recognise that there is no entitlement to discount as that is a question for the judgement and discretion of the sentencing court. There must be convincing utilitarian reasons for allowing discount. The decision of this court in McInally v Procurator Fiscal Edinburgh [2016] SAC (Crim) 5 adopted the principle that if the sentencing sheriff has given cogent reasons for allowing or declining to apply discount it will only be in exceptional circumstances that this court will interfere. That follows the dicta of the Lord Justice General in Gemmell at paragraph [81]. In this case the sheriff has given reasons which we consider are logical, sustainable and cogent standing the stage the plea was tendered and the nature of the charge. We re-affirm the principle that it is only in exceptional cases that this court will interfere with a discretionary decision on discount for which the sentencing sheriff has given cogent reasons.”

Not only does Jackson Boyd represent you when charged with a criminal offence but we also offer advice and assistance when pleading guilty to any charge properly issued by the Procurator Fiscal.

 

Alan Cameron

Alan Cameron

Dispute Resolution Team

“My motto is: ‘First they ignore you, then they ridicule you, then they fight you, and then you win.’”

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