What to Do If Convicted in Absence: Reopening Your Case with a Statutory Declaration
Discovering that you’ve been convicted of a criminal offence in your absence can be a shocking and distressing experience. Whether due to an administrative error, a missed court date, or a lack of awareness about the proceedings, it’s essential to take prompt action to rectify the situation.
In the United Kingdom, one way to address such convictions is by swearing a statutory declaration and seeking to have the case reopened. In this blog post, we will guide you through the steps to follow if you find yourself in this unfortunate situation.
Understanding Convictions in Absence
Convictions in absence occur when a court reaches a verdict and imposes a sentence on an individual without their presence, and sometimes without their knowledge. This can happen for various reasons, such as failure to receive a court summons or notice, confusion about court dates, or administrative errors. Regardless of the cause, it’s crucial to address the issue promptly to protect your rights and reputation.
Step 1: Confirm the Conviction
The first step is to confirm the details of your conviction. Obtain a copy of the court judgment or conviction notice. You can do this by making contact with the court who dealt with your case. This document will provide essential information, including the offence you were convicted of, the date of the hearing, and the sentence imposed. Make sure to review this document carefully to understand the nature of the charges against you.
Step 2: Seek Legal Advice
Once you have the conviction notice in hand, it’s advisable to consult with a criminal defence firm who specialises in cases involving convictions in absence. They can provide you with expert guidance on the next steps to take and assess the strength of your case. Having legal representation is crucial to navigate the legal complexities involved.
If you are ready to seek specialist legal advice now regarding a conviction imposed in your absence, call our expert team now on 01623 397200.
Step 3: Swear a Statutory Declaration
One of the key mechanisms for challenging a conviction in absence is by swearing a statutory declaration. A statutory declaration is a formal written statement made under oath, and it is legally binding. To swear a statutory declaration, follow these steps:
a. Visit a Solicitor: Schedule an appointment with a solicitor who is authorised to witness statutory declarations.
b. Provide Details: Prepare a detailed statement that explains your situation, emphasizing that you were unaware of the court proceedings and conviction.
c. Swear the Declaration: In the presence of the solicitor, you will be required to swear an oath, confirming the truth of your statement. The solicitor will then sign and stamp the declaration.
d. File the Declaration: Submit the sworn statutory declaration to the court that convicted you in your absence. It’s crucial to follow the court’s procedures for filing the declaration accurately.
Step 4: Request a Reopening of Your Case
With the statutory declaration submitted, you can now formally request the court reopen your case. This typically involves filing an application for the conviction to be set aside or quashed. Your solicitor will assist you in preparing the necessary documentation and making the application.
Step 5: Attend the Reopening Hearing
If your application is successful, the court will schedule a reopening hearing. It’s essential to attend this hearing in person to present your case and present any supporting evidence. This is your opportunity to explain why you were not aware of the original proceedings and why the conviction should be overturned. You may wish to be legally represented at this hearing, and Forrest Williams Legal Ltd can help with this. You can call and instruct us to act on your case on 01623 397200.
Grounds for Reopening a Conviction
To increase your chances of having your conviction set aside, it’s important to establish valid grounds for the reopening. Common grounds include:
1. Lack of Notice: Demonstrating that you did not receive proper notice of the court hearing, such as summons or notifications.
2. Administrative Errors: Providing evidence of administrative errors or court mistakes that led to your absence at the hearing.
3. New Evidence: Presenting new evidence that could affect the outcome of your case and was not available at the time of the original hearing.
4. Unforeseen Circumstances: Explaining any circumstances beyond your control that prevented you from attending the hearing.
5. Legal Deficiencies: Identifying legal deficiencies or procedural irregularities in the original proceedings.
Discovering a conviction in absence can be a distressing situation, but it’s not the end of the road. By taking swift and decisive action, including swearing a statutory declaration and seeking to have your case reopened, you can potentially reverse the conviction and ensure that justice is served.
Legal representation is invaluable during this process to navigate the complexities of the UK legal system effectively. Remember that every case is unique, and consulting with an experienced criminal defence solicitor is essential to protect your rights and clear your name.
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