A plan to fight that ticket

If you've received a ticket and have pleaded not guilty, you should prepare well ahead of time for the trial.

Last week’s column told you what to do if you received a ticket. Since you have decided to go to court and fight the ticket, here’s what you need to do.

Request disclosure. Write to the officer involved and ask for notes, pictures, or documents that the police will be relying on for evidence at trial. Allow lots of time for the notice to reach the police and return the answer to you.

Make notes ahead of time on the items that you wish to bring to the court's attention that will show you are not guilty of doing what was alleged.

Subpeona any witnesses that you require. You do this by attending at the court registry with the names and addresses of the people that you require.

Consider attending traffic court to observe before your trial date. This will allow you to become familiar with what will happen and allow you to be less nervous and more focused on the big day.

At the courthouse on trial day before the trial commences is a good time to play "let's make a deal" with the officer. Talk to them outside the courtroom and make your offer.

Things like offering to plead guilty to speeding at $138 instead of $196 might be accepted. You have nothing to lose by asking.

Can't find the officer and still want to try? When your case is called, ask the judge for a brief adjournment to speak with the officer.

Dress neatly, don't chew gum, turn off your pager/cell phone, take off your hat. In most cases the dispute will be heard in traffic court.

The judicial justice of the peace is called "your worship," otherwise in provincial court it is "your honour." It's not too big a deal unless you are being discourteous. If you are first and don't know how to address the judge, ask, they will be impressed that you are earnest.

if you are going to call witnesses, have them leave the courtroom before your trial starts. They can sit and watch until then, but if they sit there and listen to part of the trial, their evidence is tainted and cannot be given as much weight by the court.

Listen carefully to the evidence given by the officer. Take pen and paper with you to make notes if you wish to.
On cross examination, ask questions that highlight any evidence given by the officer that is to your advantage and ask if anything needs to be clarified so that you understand and can respond to it.

If you are going to give evidence, know if you are going to affirm to tell the truth or if you want to swear on the Bible. It's surprising how often this has to be explained as well.

Be careful about choosing to give evidence on your own behalf. If you do, you are open to cross examination from the officer and must answer. Gaps in the officer's testimony can be filled in this way. This is not the time to complain about police treatment.

The court is only interested in the evidence. Complaints about police misconduct are for the public complaints commission, not the traffic court.

Both sides will be given a chance to summarize. The summary is your chance to highlight important parts of the evidence from both the officer and yourself (if you chose to testify) that show you are not guilty.

The verdict will be given and the justice will explain the reasons. If you are found not guilty, that's it. The ticket goes in the garbage can and you are free to go.

If guilty, the trial now moves on to the penalty phase. The officer may choose to show the court your driving record (if you have one) and suggest that the penalty not be lowered

If this is an offence without a minimum or a statutory amount. You have the chance to explain why the penalty should be different for your circumstances or failing that you can give evidence about your financial circumstances and ask for a reasonable length of time to pay.

If the justice asks how long you need, be prepared with an answer. Don't just shrug your shoulders and leave it up to them.

If you think the guilty verdict is improper, it isn't necessary to say so. Stop by the court registry on your way out and ask about an appeal.

You will likely be wise to seek advice from a lawyer before proceeding. Appeals take place in Supreme Court and it is very formal with all the I's dotted and T's crossed before you get there.

Story URL: https://www.drivesmartbc.ca/qa/qa-how-deal-traffic-ticket


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About the Author

Tim Schewe is a retired constable with many years of traffic law enforcement experience. He has been writing his column for most of the 20 years of his service in the RCMP.

The column was 'The Beat Goes On' in Fort St. John, 'Traffic Tips' in the South Okanagan and now 'Behind the Wheel' on Vancouver Island and here on Castanet.net.

Schewe retired from the force in January of 2006, but the column has become a habit, and continues.

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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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