Requesting a Trial
How do I request a trial date?
Most Municipalities require you to attend an Ontario Court of Justice office within your city. The ticket normally contains the address of the office in which you must attend. In most offices now, when you attempt to schedule a trial date, you will be forcefully directed into a “First Attendance Meeting” first, to meet with the “Prosecutor” who will then attempt to reach a plea bargain with you (which generally means that the prosecutor will try to have you agree to plead guilty to a lesser charge). Never accept this, as in most cases, it is entirely at your detriment. Always demand a “trial date” and not a “first attendance meeting”. Attendance Meetings are a waste of your time and have been designed to discourage you from seeking a trial, where the onus is on the State to prove that you are guilty of the offence, not where you are obligated to prove you innocence(your right under section 11 (d) of the Charter) You will have to bring the ticket that you received and it is always best to have obtained a photocopy of the front and back of your ticket for you records and to maintain this copy, before you hand it to the clerk (who will keep it).
The NOTICE OF INTENTION TO APPEAR form will ask you the following questions:
Name, Address, Phone Number and the Offence Notice Number or Parking Infraction Notice Number
A question will be posed in the next section of the form:
At trial I intend to challenge the evidence of the provincial offences officer who completed
The Certificate of Offence or Certificate of Parking Infraction ___ No/Non _X_ Yes/Oui
( see PROVINCIAL OFFENCES ACT Section 5.2 (1) “Challenge to officer’s evidence”)
Always check off YES. The reason you do this, is to ensure that the Officer (Green Hornet, Parking Infraction Officer, MLEO, Police Officer, Ontario Provincial Police Officer, RCMP etc) who issued the ticket is:
- Compelled to be present at the Trial.
- Compelled to have their log book or notepad in their possession at the trial.
If you do not check off yes, then you might as well have picked option 1 or 2 (both guilty). If you pick “NO” then the following will take place:
- The Officer will not have to show up.
- The Prosecutor will rely on the same Officer’s “certified statements” against you – and you will be in no position to disagree with the Officer’s statement, as you have already waived your rights to that.
- You WILL lose your case!
It is important that you indicate that you intend to challenge the evidence of the Officer, for several reasons:
- If the Officer does not show up for your trial, it will more than likely be dismissed.
- You need to check off “yes” in order to request “disclosure”, after you have received your Notice of Trial in the mail. A section on this website is devoted to “Disclosure”.
- If the officer does show up and wants to rely on his notes, to him/her about his/her notes and recollection at the time of the event.
- You cannot cross examine notes, you can only cross examine the author of the notes.
The last portion of the NOTICE OF INTENTION TO APPEAR form 7, that you must fill out states that:
“I intend to appear in court to enter a plea at the time and date set for trail and I wish that it be held in the English language” You check this off, unless, due to you language needs (other than English) you require a language interpreter for the trial, in which case, you indicate the language that you feel most comfortable having a trial in, or you are deaf and require a sign language interpreter. This right is entrenched in Section 14 of the Charter. If the Court is unable to provide you with a Court appointed Interpreter, than your rights under Section 14 of the Charter have been violated, which constitutes grounds under Section 24 (1) (remedy section for Charter violations) to have the charge(s) that you showed up to challenge, dismissed. You also have the right to make full answer and defence to your charge(s) and this right is entrenched in Section 7 of the Charter and pursuant to section 46 (2) of the Provincial Offences Act.
A party or witness in any proceedings who does not understand or speak the language in which the proceedings are conducted or who is deaf, has the right to the assistance of an interpreter.
Section 84 (1) Interpreters – A justice may authorize a person to act as an interpreter in a proceeding before the justice where the person swears the prescribed oath and, in the opinion of the justice, is competent.
Section 84 (2) Idem – A judge may authorize a person to act as interpreter in proceedings under this Act where the person swears the prescribed oath and, in the opinion of the judge is competent and likely to be readily available.
Remember, if you request a language/sign interpreter and you show up and commence the trial in your preferred language, with the assistance of the Court appointed Interpreter, you can’t skip back and forth in English/French – it is either that you conduct the trial in English/French or the Court’s Interpreter must be used throughout – you can’t go back and forth when it suits you. The Court will not permit this.
The last step is that you sign the bottom portion of the Form 7 and date it. Once you have filled this out and have handed it to the clerk ,ask for a copy for your records. The clerk will inform you that you will be receiving a trial date in the mail. Now you wait for your Notice of Trial in the mail.
See Form 7- NOTICE OF INTENTION TO APPEAR
What happens if I cannot attend in person, how can I challenge the ticket if I do not show up in person?
You can send a family member, friend or co-worker on your behalf. The clerk receiving your ticket would recognize the family member, friend or co-worker as an “agent” filing the Notice of Intention to Appear – Form 7, on your behalf. If someone else is going to show up and file on your behalf, ensure that they understand that when filing out the request for trial (Form 7 - Notice of Intention to Appear), that they say “yes” to the question “At trial I intend to challenge the evidence of the Provincial Offences Officer who completed the Certificate of Offence or Certificate of Parking Infraction” ?. Also let them know if you have a language preference other than English and that language should be noted with a request for an interpreter (which is your right under Section 14 of the Charter). When the “Notice of Trial” is mailed out, it will go to your address and not the address of the other person (the “agent”) who requested a trial date on your behalf. The Notice of Trail never goes to the agent, unless the agent is the owner of the car or vehicle which was ticketed.
Are there any time limits when requesting a trial to challenge my ticket(s)?
Yes. You will have fifteen (15) calendar days from the date of the alleged infraction (either a parking or traffic ticket) to bring your ticket to the appropriate office, if it is issued under Part I of the Provincial Offences Act (P.O.A) to have it processed for a trial. If the ticket is issued under Part III of the P.O.A, you will have thirty (30) calendar days to bring it to the appropriate office (normally the Ontario Court of Justice office), to indicate that you wish to challenge it at a trial. The back of the ticket generally provides you with the address of the appropriate office to bring it to, within the area in which you received your ticket.
The Provincial Offences Act (commonly referred to as P.O.A.) sets out the procedural requirements in section 5.1(filing a notice of the intention to appear)
A ticket, under the Provincial Offences Act is referred to as a “Certificate of Offence”, or a “Parking Infraction Notice”. Under the provisions of the Provincial Offences Act, when a Certificate of Offence (ticket) has been delivered (either hand delivered to you by a Police Officer or if the parking ticket was placed on your vehicle), you have fifteen (15) calendar days within which to indicate whether you want to plead guilty (pay the fine), guilty with an explanation (pay the fine and/or have the demerit points attributed to your driver’s license) or that you wanted to proceed with a trial. If you do not choose one of these options within fifteen (15) days, the Court will presume you agree with the information on the ticket(s) and a plea of guilty would be entered on your behalf and you will have to pay the original set fine shown on the ticket, the court’s administrative costs and a Victim Fine Surcharge (ie- a speeding ticket – 59 km’s per hour in a 40 km zone = set fine of $ 47.50 With the costs and Victim Fine Surcharge, now = $ 67.50 (increase $20.00)).
It is important to remember as well, that whatever amount of time it takes you to present your ticket and request a trial is considered a neutral intake time, with respect to any Charter argument regarding s.11 (b) of the Charter. Example, if you receive the ticket on the 1st of any month and you wait until the 15th to have it processed for a trial, the Courts will deduct 14 days (neutral intake time) off of the 8 – 10 month period referred to in the Supreme Court’s decision of Morin.
What happens if I receive a “Notice of Trial” in the mail, and I am on vacation, out of the country, on that date, what do I do?
There are a couple of options at your disposal. The first one is that you inform the court, at least ten (10) days prior to the scheduled trial date, that you are not available on the scheduled trial date. You will be asked by the clerk in the Ontario Courts of Justice – Provincial Offences Act (POA) office in your area or in Toronto, for all tickets you can attend the Toronto South Ontario Courts of Justice (POA) office at 137 Edward Street, 2nd floor, in Toronto or for parking tickets, you can go to Edward St or the only other, at 1530 Markham Road, Ground Floor. These offices are normally open for business between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. 137 Edward Street is a street just north of Dundas St W (it is located one street north of Dundas St and intersects with University Ave) if you are going to Edward Street after 10:00 a.m. go to the Tim Horton’s and get a large cup of coffee and something to munch on, because once you go to the second floor of 137 Edward Street and get a number, you’ll be waiting a while before you are served. Once you are in one of these offices, inform the clerk that you have received a “Notice of Trial” (have it with you) and that you need to prepare and file a “Motion” for a new “Trial date”. Once you have filled out the documentation, the clerk will provide you with a copy of your motion and will give you a date, time and room number of where you will have to appear, to present your motion, requesting a revised “Trial Date”. This motion will be presented to a Justice of the Peace, who will determine whether or not you are entitled to change the date of trial. If the Justice of the Peace denies your request, then the original date of trial will be the date that your matter is heard. If the Justice of the Peace agrees that, under the circumstances, it is appropriate to change your date of trial (ie – your out of the country on vacation, which was planned before your received your “Notice of Trial” in the mail) then you will receive a new date for trial. You could also send someone else on your behalf (ie- an “agent”) to make this motion on your behalf in front of the Justice of the Peace.
If you don’t have time to do all of this, at least ten (10) days prior to the scheduled trial, you can go on vacation and have an agent come to the scheduled trial date and make the request to adjourn the matter to another trial date in the future, given that you are unable to show up for the trial date, given your particular or specific circumstances. In most cases, the Justice of the Peace will grant your request. If not, the agent can argue the case on your behalf in your absence. Again, if the Justice of the Peace refuses to grant this request, this can be appealed, especially if your absence contributed to the conviction or being found guilty.
This can all be appealed under the Provincial Offences Act, beginning in Section 135. To appeal a Conviction and/or sentence pursuant to the Provincial Offences Act see within this site “Appealing a Conviction or Sentence”