You can not know how to fight a ticket until you see disclosure (officers notes). There is quite a bit you can do yourself first without having to put out any money.
WHAT SHOULD I DO? HOW DO I FIGHT MY TICKET?
Regardless of how simple or complex the charge is (from parking tickets to DUI), you have the RIGHT to a fair trial and a RIGHT to see the evidence they have against you. Even if you admit to doing whatever you were charged with, you still have these rights.
So my advice is that you should plead NOT GUILTY and request a Trial with the officer present. Once you get your Notice of Trial with a trial date, you can request disclosure (copy of notes of all officers involved, copy of radar/laser device manual if applicable).
Once you get the disclosure (officers notes), post them back on the forum so we can review them and give you more advice (black out any personal id info and officer id info).
You have nothing to lose by doing this, as you can still plead guilty and pay the ticket anytime up to the trial. You have everything to gain because the officers notes contain what they will testify, and if something is missing in their notes, you might be able to get the charge dropped.
SHOULD I HIRE A PARALEGAL/LAWYER?
In order to save some money, you can usually do all the above steps yourself first, without the need to hire a paralegal or lawyer. Once you get the disclosure and depending on the seriousness of the charge, you can then decide whether to hire one or whether to try and fight it yourself. You can also arrange to meet with the prosecutor yourself before the trial, to see if they will offer you a plea deal. Again, there is no point in hiring a paralegal to negotiate a plea deal you can do yourself.
Points to conisder:
- Do not hire any paralegal/lawyer that suggests they can win without seeing the disclosure first.
- Only hire a paralegal/lawyer that will review the disclosure with you and suggest possible defenses to try and fight it.
- Do not hire any paralegal/lawyer that considers "negotiating a plea deal" a win. Although a plea deal might be the best choice for you, some paralegals do not try to fight at all and will only negotiate plea deals and then they say they "won".
- Do not hire any paralegal/lawyer that "gurantees a win or you don't pay" as this is illegal in Ontario.
VEHICLE INSURANCE & DEMERITS
The effects of pleading guilty to a 0 demerit charge, can still cause your insurance rates to increase for 3 years. It is important to remember that insurance companies do NOT care about demerit points. Insurance companies rate the tickets you get as either MINOR, MAJOR or SERIOUS. For each minor conviction you have, your insurance may raise your rates a little. For each major conviction you have, your insurance may raise your rates a lot. For each serious conviction you have, your insurance may DOUBLE your rates or even refuse to provide you with insurance at all.
For example, most speeding tickets, regardless of demerit points, are considered minor and will affect your insurance the same. Example:
- Speeding 1 over to 15 over = 0 demerit points = Considered MINOR by inusrance company.
- Speeding 16 over to 29 over = 3 demerit points = also considered MINOR by inusrance company.
- Speeding 30 over to 49 over = 4 demerit points = also considered MINOR by most inusrance companies (some may consider this MAJOR).
If you get a ticket for 1 over, it will affect your insurance exactly the same as if you got a ticket for 29 over. The insurance companies do not care about the demerits and do not care about the speed.
SPEEDING - OFFICER LOWERED SPEED
Police in Ontario have the discretion to lower the speed on the ticket if they want. They do not have to do this, it is completely up to them. If they do lower the speed though, and you take it trial and you lose at the trial, the ticket will be raised back up to the higher speed.
- An officer pulls you over and says you were going 20 over, but drops the ticket to 15 over so it is 0 demerits instead of 3 demerits. If you go all the way to trial and then lose at the trial, you will be charged with the higher 20 over and have to pay the higher fine and get the 3 demerits. But also remember that you still have the right to a trial and the right to see the evidence/disclosure first. You can still choose to plead guilty and pay the lower 15 over ticket right up until the trial. And also remember that the 15 over 0 demerits can still cause your insurance to go up the same as if you got the 20 over 3 demerits ticket.
+++ This is not legal advice, only my opinion +++