Q: I received two minor tickets recently with the wrong date on both. This would seem to be a fatal error.
If I do nothing and let them convict me, would I automatically win on appeal since the evidence is faulty? Or, if I fight it in court, is this a sure dismissal?
A: Stephen Parker of Pointts ( www.pointts.com), a traffic ticket fighting paralegal firm, replies:
Based on the limited information provided, here is a general answer.
First, how far apart are the dates? If it’s just one day, it’s probably correctible. This is why it’s important to apply for the officer’s notes in relation to the case.
If the officer testifies in court with the correct date, the prosecutor will then request to have the certificate amended to conform to the officer evidence. This is permitted under section 34 of the Provincial Offences Act.
The presiding justice may then ask the defendant if he has any comment. Absent any legitimate argument, the amendment will probably be allowed.
On the other hand, if the mistaken date wasn’t spotted and amended, then the defendant will no doubt testify that he wasn’t at that location on the date written on the tickets. Any prosecutor with any experience will then ask if he did, in fact, receive these tickets from the officer. He’d, of course, have to say yes. He’d then be asked to give the actual date he received them.
I would anticipate a further question from the prosecutor: “The day you were given those tickets by the officer, was that the same day you were stopped by this officer?” He’d have to answer that it was, and the prosecutor could then ask the court to amend the certificates to conform to the witness’s evidence.
Not so simple is it?
Where did this happen and at what court would the matters be heard? Each court has its own peculiarities as to how they deal with charges. What is the reader ultimately looking for? What was his speed? Does it involve any demerit points?
As to winning on appeal as the evidence is faulty, if a defendant fails to appear on the trial date or is otherwise unrepresented, then pursuant to section 9.1 of the Provincial Offences Act, they are deemed not to wish to dispute the charge and the presiding justice shall register a conviction after examining the certificate to ensure it is complete and regular on its face. No evidence is heard from any witness.
On that basis, the justice couldn’t know the date is incorrect as there’d be nothing to indicate it wasn’t complete and regular.
A slight error in penmanship regarding a date that is close to what it should be is not enough to automatically “throw it out.”
The bottom line is, it’s a lot more complicated than it might appear. Any person charged with a traffic offence should, before doing anything, speak to a licensed paralegal or a lawyer specializing in the Highway Traffic Act.
Eric Lai adds:
My mom once got a “psychic” parking ticket predicting the future. The next day she went to the parking tag office and told the clerk, “According to the date and time printed on this ticket, I’ll be illegally parked an hour from now.”
The ticket was cancelled.