England: Government to introduce system for pleading guilty online

England: Government to introduce system for pleading guilty online

The UK government will move ahead with plans to allow people accused of petty crimes to plead guilty and be sentenced online.

A Ministry of Justice (MoJ) report has recommended the system, which is voluntary, be trialled with non-custodial sentences, including railway fare evasion.

The report states: “Under this proposal, defendants who opt in to the online procedure and plead guilty will be offered the option to accept a pre-determined penalty (including the payment of any appropriate compensation and costs), be convicted and pay the amount immediately,” it reads.

It goes on to add: “This procedure will therefore only apply to cases which already generally require minimum involvement from magistrates and would otherwise be decided by a single magistrate on the papers without the need for a court hearing through the Single Justice Procedure (SJP).

“We consider that it is in the interests of all court users to have clear-cut, wholly uncontested cases dealt with without any unnecessary delay, thus allowing magistrates more time to consider more complex cases.”

Defendants would enter some personal data including data of birth, National Insurance number and their prosecution Unique Reference Number which the report states will be “designed to the highest standards of digital security”.

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