Legal Definitions

Definitions and expressions you should know if you are reading the Provincial Offences Act (P.O.A) or the Highway Traffic Act (H.T.A) (arranged alphabetically):

actus reus
(Latin) “guilty act” (see mens rea).
adjournment
adjourning or putting the matter (ie- the trial) over to another date.
affidavit
you make a statement, that you swear or affirm, is true.
certificate
means a certificate of offence issued under Part I or a certificate of parking infraction (ticket) issued under Part II.
children
persons under the age of eighteen years old.
counsel
means a lawyer.
court
means the Ontario Court of Justice or Judge or Justice of the Peace.
crown
this means the Prosecutor in the courtroom.
deemed not to dispute
if you have filled out a form 7 (requesting a trial) and fail to appear at the trial, you will be “deemed not to dispute” the charge and will be convicted in absentia.
defendant
this means “you” as the motorist who has been charged with an offence.
fail to respond
if you receive a ticket and neglect to act on any of the instructions on it, will mean that the court will set a date to deal with it, you will be deemed not to dispute it and a conviction will be entered on the record against you and you will receive the sanction provided.
highway
includes a common and public highway, street, avenue, parkway, driveway, square, place, bridge, viaduct or trestle, any part of which is intended for or used by the general public for the passage of vehicles and includes the area between the lateral property lines thereof.
historic vehicle
means a motor vehicle that is at least 30 years old; and is substantially unchanged or unmodified from the original manufacturer’s product.
intersection
means the area embraced within the prolongation or connection of the lateral curb lines or, if none, then of the lateral boundary lines of two or more highways that join one another at an angle, whether or not one highway crosses the other.
judge
means a Provincial Judge.
justice
means a Provincial Judge or a Justice of the Peace.
King’s Highway
includes the secondary highways and tertiary roads designated under the “Public Transportation and Improvement Act”.
Lawyer
means counsel or the licensed paid professional who is retained to represent you
in court or in other legal matters outside of court.
mens rea
(Latin) “guilty mind”.
motor vehicle
includes an automobile, motorcyle.
offence
means an offence under an Act of the Legislature or under a regulation or by-law made under the authority of an Act of the Legislature; (“infraction”).
parking infraction
parking ticket, normally placed on the outside of your car under the windshield wiper in your absence.
police officer
means a chief of police or other police officer but does not include a special constable or by-law enforcement officer.
prescribed
means prescribed by the rules of court.
prima facie
means on the face of it.
prosecutor
means the Attorney General or, where the Attorney General does not intervene, means the person who issues a certificate or lays an information and includes an agent acting on behalf of either of them or an agent working on behalf of the City (the Prosecutor need not be a member of the bar to be a Prosecutor)
provincial offences officer
means a police officer or another person designated under subsection(3).
re-opening
the act of requesting that the Justice of the Peace re-open your case, to provide you with an additional opportunity to challenge your charge (s).
representative
means, in respect of a proceeding to which this Act applies, a person authorized under the Law Society Act to represent a person in that proceeding.
set fine
means the amount of the fine set by the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice for an offence for the purpose of proceedings commenced under Part I or Part II of the P.O.A.
Stare Decisis
means “to stand by decided matters”. Lower courts must follow the decisions of the Supreme Court of Canada.
stay of proceeding
means that your charge (s) are suspended indefinitely or cancelled due to an error of the court (ie- the trial wasn’t conducted quickly enough pursuant to sections 11(b) & 24 (1) of the Charter).
ticket
a certificate of offence or a parking infraction notice.
trial in absentia
the trial proceeds in the absence of the defendant. Or “Convicted in Absentia” – found guilty in your absence.
Voir Dire
A “trial within a trial” or French “to speak the truth”.
young person
there are different interpretations under the Act (it could 16 or under 18).
Your Honour
is how you address a Judge, in the courtroom.
Your Worship
is how you address a Justice of the Peace, in the courtroom.
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