Ask me anything about fighting your traffic ticket (Speeding, Parking, etc.)
Most people don't even consider fighting their ticket as they usually have thoughts such as "But I'm guilty; I was parked illegally; I was speeding; I didn't come to complete stop at the stop sign, I can't be bothered taking time off work to go to court; I don't know what to do; it looks very complicated."
You will need to clear your mind out of the above as I'm here to help you win/get the ticket dropped.
Financial Impact of a traffic ticket conviction
Most people also don't consider the entire financial impact a conviction on record can have. Even if one accepts a plea bargain for a reduced fine, the conviction this comes with due to say a minor collision that came with a careless driving offence, can cause your insurance premiums to double or even triple. The financial penalties can be severe if you pay the fine, plead guilty to a lesser fine, or are found guilty after a trial.
Most people also believe that once they have received a traffic ticket, means they are guilty, but you're not. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, section 11 (d) clearly states:
If you pay the fine, you are abandoning this right. At the very least, requesting a trial can delay your conviction and shorten the time that this conviction stays on record which can save you thousands towards your insurance premium.Any person charged with an offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty according to law in a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal.
***STEPS TO FIGHT YOUR TRAFFIC TICKET***
I just got a ticket, what is the first thing I should do?
Make notes of what happened (Description of the police officer/etc.). On the back of your ticket choose the option to Request A Trial (Note: Please see the last section of this OP for examples of when you should NOT Request A Trial nor pay the fine) and send it in. Wait a few weeks for a notice in the mail concerning your trial date.
Note: Request an Interpreter if English isn't your first language.
Here is an example notice of trial that you will eventually receive
I received my trial date, now what?
Contact the court to obtain the Address/fax info for the prosecutor's office. Send "by registered mail" OR FAX the following document to the prosecutor requesting disclosure of the evidence against you. Do this as soon as you get your trial date.
DISCLOSURE REQUEST Sample Letter to the Prosecutor
PARKING INFRACTION DISCLOSURE REQUEST Sample Letter to the Prosecutor
Note: Do not include your phone number otherwise they will just call you and ask you to go pick up your disclosure request. Its better to let the prosecutor handle all the paper work in mailing the entire disclosure requests back to you. If they do not do this, this will only work in your favour.
For those that have a trial date 10+ months from offence date, send a letter to the prosecutor asking for your trial date to be moved up, just to later demonstate to the Justice of the Peace that you are not waiving your right to a speedy trial. Waiver Sample Letter. Don't worry, your trial date won't change.
Its been a month since my request for Disclosure, I still don't have it.
If you still have at least 2 months until your trial date, then it would be a good idea to send a second registered letter to the prosecutor indicating your request for disclosure. Doing this shows the Justice that you were proactive in your attempts at getting disclosure. Send in about 2-3 requests for disclosure on a monthly basis until you receive it.
I have a month until my trial but I have not received disclosure (or the disclosure I have received is lacking information to prepare my defence)
This is actually good news. As your objective is to not be convicted, not receiving disclosure is a valid reason to not be tried in court. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms section 7 states:
Since your right to disclosure has been violated, you can file an application with the Attorney General to stop your trial (legal context is "STAY").the right to disclosure to help you prepare your defence and answer to the charge is a principle of fundamental justice. You must have disclosure of all the evidence before the trial. If you don't get it, you can apply for a stay.
See Post #2 for instructions on how to submit an application to stop your trial. (Requires at least 15 days prior to your trial to complete)
I received sufficient disclosure, now what?
Review the material. Is it Complete? Is everything accurate (the cops notes detailing what happened that day)? Are you able to read the cops notes? If not, did your request include to have his notes typed up?
If you answer No to any of the above items and you still have months before you trial, send another disclosure request specifically stating what you require. If you have a month or less before your trial begins, then you should focus on submitting an application to stay your trial due to Improper Disclosure.
If everything in disclosure looks satisfactory, then you will need to spend some time preparing a defence to your charge. If you need assistance here, post a reply in this thread.
What can I expect to happen at trial?
On the day of trial, you and others will have their trials within the same Court Session. When you arrive at the court house, you will see your name & docket number on a sheet on the wall. At the appropriate time, you and several others will enter the court room and sit. You will have the opportunity at that point to check around to see if the Police offer is there. Before the Justice enters the court room, the prosecutor will go around and ask each of you how you will plan to plead. The prosecutor will offer a plea deal if you tell him you plan to plead not-guilty.
When the Justice enters the court room, Justice/prosecutor will deal with all the guilty pleas. Once complete, the prosecutor at this point will drop all charges for the not-guilty pleas for which the police officer is NOT present. Then they will deal with the rest off the not-guilty pleas (those who request a trial).
When it is your turn. The Justice will ask what you plea (here you will have another opportunity to change to a guilty plea or you tell the Justice you plead Not Guilty and your trial begins.
REASONS TO "STAY" YOUR TRIAL OR HAVE YOUR CHARGES DROPPED BEFORE YOUR TRIAL BEGINS
1) You do not receive disclosure of the evidence against you
2) Your disclosure material is lacking the requested information
3) There has been 10 months or more since you received the ticket to your trial date
4) There is a Fatal Flaw on the ticket itself
5) The Police Officer is not present at your trial
6) The city did not file your parking ticket with the court within 75 Days
7) The Police Officer did NOT affixed a parking ticket to your vehicle nor hand it to you in person
The prosecutor must present the following pieces of evidence against you to the Justice - Motion of Non-Suit if any piece is missing:
1) Evidence of the ownership
2) Certificate of parking infraction
3) Notice of Trial - This is usually forgotten
WHAT TO ARGUE IN COURT? - You should keep in mind STRICT LIABILITY
You will have months to prepare a defense. As I've already mentioned many times already, the first thing you should do as soon as you receive notice of trial, is to request disclosure of the evidence against you. If you happen to get sufficient disclosure, doesn't mean you should give up/accept a plea.
You should make notes when you receive a traffic ticket to remind yourself of what happened that day. Did you take reasonable steps to avoid the offence? Did you believe you were NOT committing an offence? If so, then it may not be difficult to prove as you may think.
By default, all offences are a "STRICT LIABILITY" offence. You will receive a NOT GUILTY verdict if you're successful in arguing due diligence. To argue due diligence, you must show that you took all reasonable care to avoid committing the offence.
WHEN YOU SHOULD DO NOTHING (Don't Pay Fine, Don't Request A Trial)
1) Incorrect Fine
2) Parking Tickets
- GTA: Consider filing a parking ticket dispute -> http://www.toronto.ca/pay-toronto-ticke ... cation.pdf
LAST UPDATE: Jan 4th 2013 - 3:55pm EST