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I was disputing a BC traffic ticket in court and had a hard time finding all the info I was looking for. What do i do? What was the protocol? Who would be there? What was going to happen on the day of the trial?

So I gathered together some info from people and sat in on a traffic session, browsed the internet and went to trial.
This is what I learned, and this is what may help you.

1. If you receive a ticket that you feel is incorrect and the officer has already issued you the ticket don't bother arguing with them about it. Dispute it within the allowable time stated on the back of the ticket - It's time to go to Court.

2. Make notes as soon as possible about the incident. Not days,months,years or the day before the trial. Make them when your memory is fresh, write them on anything you can while it's all fresh in your head.
On your notes include:
- the date and time you are making the notes. Why? The judge will ask you when the notes were made, if they are too old after the incident you may not be allowed to refer or use them in trial. The officer and court will also be able to see them so keep them clean and legible.Even though you may be angry when you make them, don't include any swearing or other negative terms towards anyone. Your notes are now evidence and may be your only proof of what happen that day.

- What was the weather like? What about the temp? Raining,Sunny, Foggy?
- What time did the ticket incident occur?
- Who was there? Names and phone numbers? Witnesses?

Finally: What happen? Explain in your words what happen leading upto the violation. Where you were, where they were, what was said and by who?, what lane..ect. BE SPECIFIC.

Every phone has a camera so include some photos.
- Wide of the whole scene, include items that give reference to where things are located. Remember that you will need to show someone who was not at the scene these photos to illustrate where you were and what happen.
Include closer shots of specific things, where the officer was positioned or where the cars stop, vehicle damage..ect.
The more you take the more info you will have later.Photos are free so take lots and then later you can go through and select the ones that best show the evidence.

Prior to trial you should print your photos you are using for your defense and label each one. Photo A, Photo B.... ( a north compass ) can help too_On a separate sheet you can then write what each shot is referring too, Photo A shows the whole intersection, Photo B the Officers position.
3 copies of each photo are best: 1 for the judge, 1 for Crown ( Officer ), 1 for you. You could make just one but it's much better to supply everyone with a copy.

What if I wasn't able to get any photos?
Are you able to go back to the location and take photos? Some evidence of the scene may be able to help at trial. You will need to note when the photos were take if after the time of the incident. The later the date the more likely they may not be allowed in court. What if the intersection has changed or a new building is there now?? Some trials may take 2 years to see court.

Use google earth or google maps. Great free programs that show detailed views of streets, buildings and even signs. Photos from the air and even 360 degree street views of many,many roads and intersections throughout BC. Just goto your location and position yourself to take the best photos of the location. ** You will need to provide the date and time that these were taken ( the info should be in the lower right corner of the google maps screen ). Some photos may be outdated and may not be allowed in court .
Again include where north is, the date the photos were taken and either
hand draw where the vehicles, people were positioned.
Then label each photo with a number or letter and follow the same process as before with photos.

Witnesses.

If you have any witnesses you wish to use at your trial you will need to contact the Violation Ticket Office when you receive your Hearing Date in the mail. The info is on the Hearing Date Letter you will receive.

Ok so you have your evidence in order and now your heading to court!

What to expect.

1. Show up early.
2. The Crown ( your Officer ) will locate you or you them outside of the courtroom. They will tell you what the offense was and show you what evidence they have.
They may offer you some options:
A. Plead guilty to a lesser charge and fine amount
B. If you don't plead guilty and ask for a trial then they will ask for a higher fine or more tickets if they feel they have the evidence.

Option B to me is more of a bully tactic than an option, Crown ( Officer ) doesn't want to sit around waiting for court that day, they attempt to scare you into thinking if you lose you will have to pay more and pleading guilty is better for you.

To me the whole point of you going to court is that you believe you are not guilty and want a chance to provide your evidence as to why. Why would I then plead guilty to a lesser charge? I would rather be given a chance to prove my innocence and then be found guilty then give up before trial.

Each situation is different and yours may be better to take a lesser charge and fine, however mine was not.

If you know you are guilty you should not be in court and waisting everyones time.


Sure you break the law you should pay the fine. For me this is the 1st ticket of 6 over 20 years I was NOT GUILTY OF.

Now Crown ( the Officer ) may call you outside to offer you option B numerous times before court especially if they feel you are nervous or if the judge has found the cases before you were guilty.

**If your lucky they may say that they are dropping the charges ( don't ask , just say thank you ), now you have some nice photo wall art for your home.

**The Crown may not be in attendance. Charges most likely will be dismissed.

Now you have decided to plead not guilty to the charges. That's why your here in the first place right? You state to the Judge that you will be pleading not guilty and are seeking a trial. You state that you have evidence to show that you are not guilty and then you must show the Officer your evidence. Notes, photos, everything.
Now when you show your evidence to them you will likely get too comments: "What the... ok a trial it is and I will be seeking a higher fine" ( they are not exactly happy about your well prepared package ) or " Well based on this evidence I will be dropping the charges".

Now the courtroom door opens and everyone enters.

In BC traffic court the Judge is a Justice of the Peace. I'm not sure if this is the case everytime or not. The Judge by Crown on several instances was referred to as ' Your honour ' or ' Your Wisdom '. You should address the Judge as such.

A common occurrence in court is to slightly bow towards the Judge upon entering or leaving the court room.

The Judge calls for everyones names and everyone takes a seat. Crown at the front and you at the back.

The cases usually start with any dismissed cases or guilty pleas finishing with the not guilty cases which go straight to trial before the judge.

** As a note you can plead guilty and ask for a lesser fine or more time to pay based on your financial situation. As long as your fine is not below the minimum fine level for your offense.

Ok so now your called up. You stand where everyone else has stood or where the Judge directs you too. You state your name and plead not guilty when asked.

The Crown ( Officer ) takes the stand and begins to state their evidence.
You should be sitting down writing the details of what they are saying. To court you should have brought a pad of paper and some extra pens. Down the middle of the page put a big line. On the right side take notes on what the Officer is saying. On the left you can write what you might ask them about their evidence. Be quick and write so you understand them.
Look for keywords that may help you when asking questions.

Now the Officer has finished and the Judge will now give you an opportunity to ask your questions to the Officer.
This is when you can present your evidence to the Judge. " Your Honour , I have some photos I would like to ask the crown about and enter into evidence ". Now the Judge will ask about the photos and whether Crown has seen the photos ( yes they did in the hallway before trial ) and if they have any objections. If they don't then the Judge will allow them. You can give one set to the Crown and one to the Judge, you keep yours to reference.

If you have questions while using the photos refer to each photo by number first so Crown and the Judge can locate the correct photo.

" Officer ********** , on photo " B " can you confirm that where the x is was where you were positioned ? "

Now for the questions: You need to establish doubt in his testimony and to display to the judge any discrepancies or holes in his testimony.

What was said by the officer??? Quickly check the notes.
Was the officer referring to any notes during his testimony?
If yes, when were they made? A year later? Too old! Judge may not allow any evidence.On the day of the event? Ok why? Is it common practice for them? Is it common practice for the RCMP or VPD or whoever? Ok
Ask to see them. Are they the original notes or copies? Can you see the originals? Why? If it is common practice you would like to see if all tickets issued on that day had similar notes? Fair? Sure

You have to go after the evidence that Crown has produced as to your guilt.
Don't go after anything technical if you have no knowledge . IE: Radar guns, Speed traps. You need evidence not some CSI idea you came up with.

Did they refer to your car as a fast looking car? Fast lane? So then was a car speeding just because it looks fast or was in the Fast lane? Nope, that's an assumption and is based on no proof.

You get the idea, again each case is different but you have to do what you can to question the evidence. Ask clear questions and if the questions are not being answered correctly then start questions with a " yes or no ". " Officer **** , " yes or no please , did you clearly see my vehicle before the stop sign.
You need the judge to understand.Someone who was not there and has no info on the event other than what is being presented.

Create reasonable doubt.

" Officer ***** , would it be at all possible that 2 very similar cars drove past you at the same time ? "
or
" Officer ***** , is it possible that .............

Basically yes it is possible that this and that could have happened based on the evidence. Now you need to prove to the Judge that you are correct.

Don't be overly aggressive. Be Polite. Be Firm. Take your Time.You have the right to trial and you should make sure you clearly defend yourself.

Now your questions are done and you have created as much doubt as you can. You tell the Judge that you are done with your questions. I'm still unsure if you have the opportunity to re-exam the crown witness again or not?? I think so but I am unsure, you should ask the judge before you finish your questions incase you don't get another chance.

Now if you have no witnesses to call then the Judge will ask you to take the stand and present your testimony. You can swear on the bible or promise to tell the truth.If you have notes ask the judge if may refer to them, they will ask the same questions as with the Crowns notes.
Present your recollection of the events. Be Clear, Speak Slowly, Cover your notes.

Crown will then ask you questions.

After Crown is done you will be asked to return to your seat.

The Judge may review the evidence then make a ruling.

Either way, found guilty or not guilty at least you were given an chance to defend yourself.
Not Guilty - you go free
Guilty - you must pay the fines immediately or ask for an extension or a reduction in fine based on financial difficulties.

This was my experience with traffic tickets in BC. If down the road I am in the same position again and believe I am not guilty then yes I will dispute the ticket and so should you. Don't let Crown pressure you into pleading guilty on lesser plea IF YOUR NOT but be willing to except the consequences if found guilty.
You may obviously be NOT GUILTY but if you can't clearly prove that then your guilty.

Do your homework. Be prepared. Good Luck

* as a note there are numerous reasons as to why a case can be dismissed due to Crown evidence or improper ticketing, R.O owner instead of the driver, changing the ticket after signing, asking for an adjournment.Hopefully the info here will help you decide whether to fight or not and what to expect.

Provincial Court of British Columbia | Your Experience at Court
 
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