Going to court for a penalty notice

A  penalty notice is an on-the-spot fine, which is often issued for parking or minor traffic offences.

If you receive a penalty notice you can:

  • pay the fine in full by the due date 
  • ask for a review of the fine if there are special or extenuating circumstances
  • elect to have the matter heard in a local court.

Before deciding to go to court, get some legal information and advice. See the following:

If you have received a penalty notice from Revenue NSW and you have elected to have the matter heard by a court, the office will issue a court attendance notice (CAN) giving you a date to attend court. Once this notice has been issued, it cannot be withdrawn.

Your plea in court

On the first day at court you will be asked if you are pleading guilty or not guilty to the offence in the penalty notice. You may have decided to plead guilty, but want to explain any extenuating or special circumstances to the court which might affect the penalty.

You have the option of advising the court of your plea in writing instead of attending the court. A Written Notice of Pleading needs to be filed at least seven days before the court hearing date on the CAN.

Pleading guilty

If you are pleading guilty to the alleged offence, your case will usually be heard on the same day.

Instead of attending court, you can fill in a Written Notice of Pleading and ask the court to decide the matter in your absence. In your written notice you can include any information that you want the judicial officer to take into account when deciding the matter.

If you attend court, you will have an opportunity to give an explanation of what happened and any information you want the court to take into account when deciding the penalty.

Pleading not guilty

If you are pleading not guilty, the case will be mentioned only and another date set for witnesses to attend and give evidence at the hearing.

You will need to give the court information about:

  • how many witnesses you will bring to court on the next date
  • any dates that are not suitable for the hearing to be listed on
  • whether you will be represented by a lawyer or intend representing yourself.

If you are filing a Written Notice of Pleading instead of attending court, you will need to include the same information. The court will send you a notice advising you of the date you need to come to court for the hearing. It is a good idea to check with the court at the end of the day or the next day about what hearing date has been given so you have time to prepare.

A Written Notice of Pleading cannot be used if you have a signed bail agreement to attend court.

You will need to bring your legal representative and your witnesses or sworn statements from witnesses on the day of the hearing.

Last updated:

12 May 2020

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