According to solicitor John Pritchard, it is never possible under English law to plead not guilty by letter in a judicial case. However, for more minor matters, such as parking offences, it may be worthwhile to write a letter pleading your innocence.
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When writing any formal letter, be polite. Express yourself calmly, setting out the facts as you see them. Don’t be tempted to resort to inflamed language, under any circumstances. Make no personal comments about other people involved in the matter, as this might make the situation worse. Try to be objective and see things from more than one point of view. A calm writing style will serve your plea of innocence better than a combative approach.
Explain your actions carefully, making sure you include all salient points. If you suspect a traffic warden has failed to notice your Blue Badge, for example, which allows you to park closer if you are disabled, say so. If you were not displaying your badge at the time, you will need to explain why. If you feel you have information about a matter that has not been taken into account, this is your opportunity to explain. Make sure you write precisely and unambiguously.
People in official positions of legal importance will not appreciate a rambling, overlong communiqué which fails to get to the point. Be brief. Aim to lay out your case on one side of A4 paper, where possible. Read your letter a few times before sending it and see whether you can omit any superfluous parts. Be succinct so you do not bore the reader. Remember you are trying to get them on your side, not send them to sleep.
Integrity is vitally important when writing a letter pleading not guilty. You must not, under any circumstances, attempt to falsify any parts of your account. You must be scrupulously honest. If you know that you are guilty of a misdemeanour, writing a letter to the contrary is morally objectionable and likely to be counter-productive anyway. The law might be an ass, to quote Charles Dickens’ Mr. Bumble, but its aims are honourable and yours should be too.
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