All criminal court cases are initially heard in the magistrates’ court. If the criminal offence you are accused of is classified as a summary offence your case will be dealt with solely in the magistrates’ court.
If the offence is linked to a more serious case or offence that is sent to the crown court, the case will be heard there.
Find St Albans magistrates’ court at:
St Albans Magistrates’ Court and Family Court
The Civic Centre
St Peter’s Street
Contact the court at:
St Albans Magistrates’ Court
c/o Luton Magistrates’ Court
What is a summary offence?
A summary offence is a criminal offence that must be heard by a magistrate rather than a judge and jury, unless it is linked to a more serious offence committed at the same time.
Summary offences heard in the magistrates’ court are generally considered to be of a reduced severity than those heard in the crown court.
- Cases of minor assault
- Damage to property
- Road traffic offences such as drink driving and driving without a valid licence
- Cases of offensive or anti-social behaviour
Some summary offences can be heard without you being present at court. If you don’t plan to attend court it is essential that you are represented by a specialist criminal defence solicitor in order to secure the best possible outcome in your case.
If you are required to attend court and you fail to do so, the court has the power to issue a warrant for your arrest. In some cases, you can be found guilty of committing a further criminal offence, for which you could be sent to prison.
What is a postal requisition?
If you receive a postal requisition or postal charge requesting you to appear at St Albans magistrates’ court, it is important you understand:
- What a postal requisition is
- What the requisition requires you to do by law
- Your next steps once you receive a postal charge or requisition
Previously known as a court summons letter, a postal requisition or a postal charge is simply an order from the court requiring you to attend at a fixed date and time.
For summary offences heard in the magistrates’ court, the court hearing must begin within 6 months from the date when the offence was allegedly committed.
The police will typically ask the court to issue the requisition or postal charge within this prescribed period of time. If they fail to do so, any potential prosecution may be time barred.
The postal requisition or postal charge may ask that you to provide your intended plea – whether you will plead guilty or not guilty to the alleged offence. Expert legal advice is vital at this stage.
If you intend to plead guilty to the alleged offence by post and ask the court to deal with the case in your absence, you may wish to include a letter of mitigation with the requisition. The letter of mitigation should explain the circumstances surrounding the offence and is aimed at achieving a more favourable outcome in your case.
Specialist legal advice can ensure that the right points are identified for the purposes of sentencing, sometimes also preventing you inadvertently stating something that could make the offence sound more serious than it was.
Once you have returned the postal requisition with your plea, you will receive a letter from the court confirming their decision. If you are requested to attend a further case hearing, it is highly recommended that you seek expert legal advice from a specialist solicitor.
You are also able to plead guilty to the offence and attend court in person. You may represent yourself in court or instruct a solicitor to act on your behalf.
Expert legal representation in St Albans
The team of criminal defence solicitors at Lawtons can represent you in St Albans magistrates’ court. We regularly handle criminal cases at courts across Hertfordshire.
We pride ourselves on providing personalised legal advice and assistance in any criminal charges that have been made against you. Our experienced criminal defence solicitors will work with you to obtain the best possible outcome in your individual case.
If you are in urgent need of legal assistance or advice from a criminal solicitor in St Albans, please get in touch with us:
Lawtons Criminal Law Solicitors – St Albans
2 Harpenden Road
Telephone: 01727 614267
Find us on Google Maps