Blogs & Comment

Go to court (and save)

For many, its not extravagant spending that breaks the budget. It is unforeseen incidents liketraffic violations that lead tofines and boost auto insurance premiumsfor several years.
Sometimes there is nothing to be done but other times a bit of knowledge can lessen the blow. Traffic tickets are one such case. I know because I just got back from traffic court after representing someone who had two traffic violations.
You learn a lot going through the system. For example, about a quarter of the people in the court room had their charges dismissed because the police officer did not show up.
Also, before going to traffic court, one might get the charges reduced through a plea bargain. In Ontario, you can call the traffic court and request a first attendance meeting with the prosecutor. After hearing your story, they may then reduce the fine — or if you had two or more violations, they may withdraw one if you plead guilty to another.
Plea bargainingoccurs on the day of the trial as well. It occurs during the recess called after attendance is taken and the cases represented by agents(nonewent to trial as they had either reached a plea bargain or were dismissed due to the officers failure to show). During the recess the prosecutor and their assistant meet with defendants and often agree to plea bargains.
Prior to trial, one isentitled to request disclosure of the evidencethe prosecution intends to present, including the officers notes. Thats because you or your agent are allowed to cross-examine the officer at the trial and can use that disclosure to prepare your questions. Its good to do this in case you dont get a plea bargain during the recess and have to carry through totrial (or if you want to fight it all the way).
In Ontario, they actually have a form available from the court to requestdisclosure. If the prosecutor fails to provide disclosure on time (e.g. officer does not forward notes), it may be grounds for dismal, postponement, ora good plea bargain.
One can hire those services that fight tickets, like Pointts or XCopper, but they charge $250 to $500 in Ontario. It seems to me the most they do is just what is outlined above. Theyknow how the system works. Very few of the cases actually go to trial as far as I could see from my visit. Most are settled out of court or the officer does not show up and its dismissed. If you have been issued a ticket or two, and know your options, you probably dont need them.