Case Dropped at the First Court Hearing


Could your case be dropped at court?

When someone is charged with drink or drug driving they will be bailed to attend court. This means that they must attend court in order to enter a plea (‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’). It is important that the motorist is provided with ‘advance disclosure’ of the evidence against them. The advance disclosure should contain, as a minimum, a case summary, the MGDD forms completed by the police and the breathalyser printout or, in drug driving cases, the Streamlined Forensic Toxicology Report (SFR1).

Believe it or not, the CPS area are now providing case summary documents without the MGDD forms at the first hearing. In other words, motorists are expected to enter a plea without even seeing the evidence against them! The CPS expects all motorists just to roll over and plead guilty so, to save on costs, doesn’t bother to obtain the evidence from the police or provide it to the motorist. Nice.

I was at court representing a client charged with drink driving. It was a first hearing so I expected to obtain the advance disclosure when we got to court. After being handed what was described to me as the advance disclosure, I asked the CPS solicitor if she was now going to drop the case against my client. Looking rather confused she asked why.

“No MGDDA form. No breathalyser printout. No evidence,” I responded. She explained that most motorists don’t know what to look for and just plead guilty so there is no point wasting time and money in obtaining and checking the evidence!

Rather than just drop the case against my client she made a few frantic phone calls to get the ‘evidence’ faxed to the court for me to check. Interestingly, when the MGDDA form was faxed to the court it had a missing page. In addition, the breathalyser printout was not signed. When the judge enquired as to the content of the missing page the CPS solicitor had to explain that it was the page where the police officer signs to confirm all is correct!

The CPS mumbled a few words, looked at me and then dropped the case. My client was awarded costs and left court with his licence in hand! 

Comment from solicitor:  

A recent survey found that almost one-third of all summary-only cases are dropped on or before first court hearings (a summary-only case is a case that can only be heard in the Magistrates' Court - it will not go to the Crown Court). The process by which a suspect is charged with drink or drug driving has changed recently. The CPS have very little involvement in these cases early on. This is causing practical problems because the police are pushing hopeless cases to court, probably to hit targets. When the case reaches court the CPS lawyer has to review it and consider the evidence. Only then do they realise that the evidence is poor. Of course, if you stroll into court and plead guilty the CPS will keep quiet, even if the evidence against you is insufficient.

If you have been charged with a drink or drug driving related case, please get in touch. If we act quick enough, we may be able to persuade the police not to charge you. If you've already been charged and have received a court date, it's not too late. We may be able to force the CPS to drop the case against you.