Radical proposals to take millions of offences out of the court system will be published today.
People who commit some minor motoring offences, dodge their TV licence or evade council tax may no longer have to appear before magistrates, the Lord Chancellor will suggest.
Instead, uncontested cases would be punished by letter, usually by a fine.
A wide-ranging package of measures to update the way magistrates' courts operate will also make it more likely that people who fail to turn up at court will be punished in their absence.
And it will clarify employers' duties to grant staff time off if they want to become JPs.
Lord Falconer of Thoroton QC will say in the foreword of a White Paper published later today: "This paper sets out where we will be taking forward further reforms - many of them based directly on the ideas and suggestions from magistrates, district judges and court staff.
"This needs to be a platform from which we deliver simpler, speedier justice for our communities.
"Cases take too long to come on. The process is too complex.
"We need to help magistrates to deliver for the lawabiding citizen."
The paper, Supporting Magistrates Courts To Provide Justice, will propose cutting magistrates' workload by abandoning full hearings for certain low-level offences.
Such matters could be punished by letter without requiring defendants to appear in court, it will suggest.
"There is considerable scope for some criminal matters (and civil matters that are heard in the magistrates' courts) to be dealt with in ways that do not require presentation before a full bench of the magistrates court," it will say.
"We are looking at a range of alternative processes and methods of disposal for some of the high-volume, relatively low-level work in ways that do not adversely impact on deterrence or the quality of justice.
"This will facilitate swifter and more efficient justice and create capacity to deal with those that remain in the
"The examples of TV licensing, council tax and some driving offences are discussed.
"We will review and consult on the potential for disposing of certain types of cases by summary justice by paper, with the usual recourse of judicial appeal."
Lord Justice Auld's review of the criminal justice system
in 2001 recommended using on-the-spot fines for TV licence evaders.
The vast majority of fee dodgers eventually plead guilty by post and do not end up before magistrates, but each case must be listed in the court schedules, resulting in administrative expense, said Lord Auld.
A fixed penalty system would allow the authorities to offer reduced fines for those who pay promptly and would make punishments more consistent across the country, he added.
On sentencing people in their absence, today's White Paper will say that defendants who fail to attend hearings "breed disrespect" for the courts and the rule of law.
"The decision of a defendant not to turn up at court is not of itself an adequate reason for postponing a criminal case," it will say.
At present, JPs have discretionary powers to sentence an absent defendant but tend to issue arrest warrants instead.
Employers will also be guided on their responsibilities to allowing time off for employees who want to become magistrates, a part-time post which is unpaid.
"The existing legislation on time off lacks clarity and is open to misinterpretation," it will say.
"Evidence suggests that in a significant number of instances magistrates are refused sufficient time off.
"More often than not, this seems to be owing to a misunderstanding of the requirement to grant time off."