Special Reasons: Unique Circumstance that is Relevant to your Case
The circumstances of every case are different and whilst there may not always be a legal defence available to you, there may be an opportunity to argue that a Special Reason exists in your case.
A special reason is a unique circumstance that is relevant to your case and directly related to the commission of the offence but does not amount to a defence. If a special reason exists you still plead guilty but it means that the court do not have to follow the unusual rules for sentencing and you may escape a severe penalty. For example, a defendant who pleads guilty of drink driving with special reasons would still be convicted of the offence, but may not receive a disqualification.
To avoid the special reasons provisions being abused, the criteria for circumstances to be considered as a special reason are strict and they are as follows:
- The reason must be a mitigating or extenuating circumstance;
- It must not amount to a defence to the allegation;
- It must be directly connected to the offence itself; and
- It must be something that the court should properly consider when imposing punishment.
The most common Special Reasons arguments are:
- An emergency situation;
- Shortness of distance driven;
- Spiked/Laced drinks with regards to drink driving cases.
Potential Difficulties with Special Reasons Cases
The courts adopt an extremely strict view on special reasons arguments and apply a high standard that must be surpassed before they will accept that special reasons exist in any case. This is to ensure that the special reason is genuine and not somebody simply trying to get out of a conviction.
The court will hear the argument presented but subject it to extreme scrutiny in an effort to find any possible alternative course of action other than that which led to the commission of the offence. If the only solution was for you to break the law, then the special reason would be accepted. For example, if the special reasons argument focuses on an emergency situation, the court will want to know the following:
- The nature of the emergency;
- The seriousness of the emergency;
- Why emergency services could not have been called as opposed to committing an offence;
- Why somebody (or anybody!) else could not have driven at the time;
- Whether the commission of the offence was actually beneficial or assisted in some way;
- The risk presented to other road users; and
- The distance driven.
This list is not exhaustive but is intended to help you understand the approach the court’s take.
How Can We Help?
We would always strongly recommend discussing your case with one of our specialist motoring lawyers.
Once we have an understanding of the case, we can provide you with our full and honest opinion as to whether or not your circumstances may amount to a “special reason”.
Even if a special reason does exist, we may recommend an alternative option that may be more beneficial in respect of sentencing and costs so it is always worth contacting us for a free consultation.
If you are facing an allegation and think it may fall under “special reasons”, contact us on 0808 168 0017.