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Hire paralegal or no?
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 1:24 pm 
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Asking for input on whether I should hire someone or go to court myself.

Situation:
Was on a 60 road with a bit of traffic. Construction on the two right lanes leaving just a left turn lane and the centre lane. It was a green light so I accelerated (also writing down on my statement that I accelerated too quickly) while the car in front also accelerated (slower than me, but did not indicate). I glance to the right side due to the construction and while doing so the car in front comes to an abrupt stop (in my opinion, also noted in my statement) thus resulting in the collision.

I've been a fully license G driver for nearly a year, so still considered a young driver. I'm aware that careless driving is 6 demerit points, and my fine is $490. Damage to vehicles is estimated to be between $1k-1.5k imo. No witnesses apart from the driver in front.

My father thinks I should just go in and fight the court after doing some research on the internet. However, based on the threads I've read, many suggest getting a paralegal or hiring someone to fight it for me due to careless driving being a big hit if convicted. I'm also aware that many say it's sometimes difficult to convict someone of careless driving due to lack of evidence.

How should I proceed with my situation? Thanks in advanced for any help or advice!


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Re: Hire paralegal or no?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 6:23 pm 
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While it is true that careless driver is a bit harder of a conviction to obtain simply because they have to prove that you were driving at a departure from the standard of care... I would probably suggest hiring a paralegal.

Although, in theory - it's easier to get off careless driving as opposed to say, a speeding ticket. The amount of legal understanding and work coupled with the statements you had already made would and the seriousness of the offence would lead me to suggest that you do hire a paralegal. You could always request a trial and disclosure, and review disclosure and then see which way to proceed. I personally wouldn't fight a careless driving ticket myself, especially if it was my first time in court.


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Re: Hire paralegal or no?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 6:59 pm 
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I'd agree with Sonic, a Careless Driving charge isn't what you want to experiment with in court afteer just doing some research on the internet. A conviction could have serious imact on your insurance rates for years to come.

Just remember that being charged/convicted is a separate issue from being at fault for the colision. Your insurance company has probably found you 100% at fault even before you get to court.


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Re: Hire paralegal or no?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 10:05 pm 
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Thanks for the prompt replies and advice. I have decided to hire a paralegal.

I have read on many threads that careless driving (rear ending) is normally either wiped of charges or lowered to a driving too close @4 demerit points or did not avoid collision (?) @2 demerit points.

Based on my situation, does any have an idea of my chances of completely wiping the charges with a paralegal or do most people simply negotiate to lower the charges to something more minor?

Thanks again.


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Re: Hire paralegal or no?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 10:13 pm 
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If by "wiped" you mean they just withdraw the charge that would be very rare under any circumstance. Chances are they will try to plea bargain down to one of those offences that you mentioned. Depending on the evidence, your paralegal will either do this or take it to trial if they are confident that they can win.


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Re: Hire paralegal or no?
PostPosted: Sat Jun 27, 2015 11:29 pm 
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It appears by your statements that you do not have any experience in a court. The best way to get experience in a court room is actually representing yourself in court, HOWEVER the downfall is you will probably lose a lot at first when you are learning how it all works. This is a serious charge as others have said, and hiring a paralegal or lawyer might be a better choice!

When choosing a paralegal, let me quote something below for you from another thread (topic7073.html):
jsherk wrote:
bigbadwolf wrote:
A side note - I sat through 2 trials, both for using a cell phone. I can't believe the amount of stupid and "unprepared" that goes through those courtrooms. The 2 paralegals that were "defending" the people had absolutely no idea what they're doing. Zero preparation. Almost as if they were colluding with the Crown to get a conviction and go get lunch as soon as possible. One of them only asked TWICE if the officer knows the brand of the cell phone... Are you kidding me?! That's it?! If you'll go like that, you may as well plead guilty and save yourself the embarrassment. Seeing that, I don't think I'll ever trust a paralegal to defend me unless they walk me in detail through how they expect the trial to go... Which they never will.

This is why it is very important to call around and talk with several paralegals/lawyers before you pay one to defend you. Unfortunately, this has been my experience while observing trials as well. Again I am not saying that ALL paralegals/lawyers are like this, because you will eventually find one that is willing to prepare properly and be willing to sit down with you and walk you thru (in detail) their plan of attack.

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+++ This is not legal advice, only my opinion +++


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Re: Hire paralegal or no?
PostPosted: Sun Jun 28, 2015 9:49 pm 
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jsherk wrote:
This is why it is very important to call around and talk with several paralegals/lawyers before you pay one to defend you. Unfortunately, this has been my experience while observing trials as well. Again I am not saying that ALL paralegals/lawyers are like this, because you will eventually find one that is willing to prepare properly and be willing to sit down with you and walk you thru (in detail) their plan of attack.


This is good advice.

As with any profession - some are better than others. You want someone who will listen and explain, not who will blow you off, or promise you the moon.

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* The above is NOT legal advice. By acting on anything I have said, you assume responsibility for any outcome and consequences. *
http://www.OntarioTicket.com OR http://www.OHTA.ca


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Re: Hire paralegal or no?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2015 8:22 pm 
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Thanks all for the advice.

I am definitely not familiar with court procedures as I'm just a first year engineering student. I'd rather not be in the position where I will "need to familiarize myself" with them due to frequent appearances as I would prefer that this is only a one time or rare ordeal.

I will take the advice provided and contact a few paralegals. Turns out my mother has been in a few accidents of her own and hired a paralegal in her previous incident. I will ask her about her experience with the one she had.

My only question about contacting multiple: would they not all initially say that they will go through the case thoroughly and give me the best result possible? How will I know which one is legit and which are not? I don't think any of them will forwardly say that they actually have no idea what they're doing.


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Re: Hire paralegal or no?
PostPosted: Mon Jun 29, 2015 8:43 pm 
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I will quote from another topic again to answer that for you (topic7089.html):

SteveF wrote:
I interviewed a few paralegals about this case, and they were all fairly evasive and said the most likely scenario is that I get plead down to 49+ under Section 128, with a fine.
To be honest, I was less than impressed with the paralegals, and so I contacted a few criminal lawyers. Several said they wouldn't take non-criminal cases and also said I would likely get plead down, but I finally got in touch with (and hired) a well-known criminal lawyer who laid everything out along with a plan of action, and has successfully defended this type of case in the past. We're going out to the location where I was caught on Sunday to take photos and assess the conditions of that stretch road, so we'll see what happens.

jsherk wrote:
Congratulations on taking the time to interview several paralegals and lawyers before choosing one! A big mistake most people make is to just hire the first one they call!
It sounds like you have found a lawyer that is interested in fighting the charge for you and not just plea bargaining like the others you talked to.
You are paying him, so make sure you talk to him about his plan of attack and about the disclosure. If he has not received disclosure by the trial date, he should be asking for an adjournment so he has time to review it (reading disclosure for 20 minutes before a trial is not enough time). He should be willing to sit down with you and go thru the disclosure line by line and explain to you the good, the bad and the ugly. You are paying him so don't be afraid to ask him to do this. He should point out all the strong points for the prosecution in the disclosure, and also point out the weak points which he will attack in cross-examination.


I highly recommend you call around!

_________________
+++ This is not legal advice, only my opinion +++


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Re: Hire paralegal or no?
PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2015 2:34 pm 
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jsherk wrote:
I will quote from another topic again to answer that for you (topic7089.html):

SteveF wrote:
I interviewed a few paralegals about this case, and they were all fairly evasive and said the most likely scenario is that I get plead down to 49+ under Section 128, with a fine.
To be honest, I was less than impressed with the paralegals, and so I contacted a few criminal lawyers. Several said they wouldn't take non-criminal cases and also said I would likely get plead down, but I finally got in touch with (and hired) a well-known criminal lawyer who laid everything out along with a plan of action, and has successfully defended this type of case in the past. We're going out to the location where I was caught on Sunday to take photos and assess the conditions of that stretch road, so we'll see what happens.

jsherk wrote:
Congratulations on taking the time to interview several paralegals and lawyers before choosing one! A big mistake most people make is to just hire the first one they call!
It sounds like you have found a lawyer that is interested in fighting the charge for you and not just plea bargaining like the others you talked to.
You are paying him, so make sure you talk to him about his plan of attack and about the disclosure. If he has not received disclosure by the trial date, he should be asking for an adjournment so he has time to review it (reading disclosure for 20 minutes before a trial is not enough time). He should be willing to sit down with you and go thru the disclosure line by line and explain to you the good, the bad and the ugly. You are paying him so don't be afraid to ask him to do this. He should point out all the strong points for the prosecution in the disclosure, and also point out the weak points which he will attack in cross-examination.


I highly recommend you call around!



Sorry if this may sound like a dumb question, but isn't plea bargain what I want? From what I understand, I probably won't be able to win in court by coming out without any kind of offence thus making plea bargain the best course of action. If I misunderstood anything can someone let me know.

I have received a reply from a paralegal who my mother has previously hired. In the e-mail, he explained that he one he receives disclosure in 2-4 weeks, he will "review and will meet with the assigned prosecutor to see if there is an offer to resolve. If there is I will discuss it with you and we’ll go from there." which sounds like a plea bargain (which I assumed is what I initially wanted)


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Re: Hire paralegal or no?
PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2015 3:23 pm 
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Chowder wrote:
jsherk wrote:


Sorry if this may sound like a dumb question, but isn't plea bargain what I want? From what I understand, I probably won't be able to win in court by coming out without any kind of offence thus making plea bargain the best course of action. If I misunderstood anything can someone let me know.

I have received a reply from a paralegal who my mother has previously hired. In the e-mail, he explained that he one he receives disclosure in 2-4 weeks, he will "review and will meet with the assigned prosecutor to see if there is an offer to resolve. If there is I will discuss it with you and we’ll go from there." which sounds like a plea bargain (which I assumed is what I initially wanted)


It's not a dumb question - I've said it before, and I will continue to bellow this; don't mess around with Careless, ever! It's far too important to get rid of this charge, primarily for insurance purposes, if you want to be able to afford to continue to drive.

Unless you're a G1/G2 or a G licence with lots of points accrued, then the 6 points are irrelevant.

What happens is this: disclosure arrives and is reviewed and frequently the evidence is not enough to support a conviction - herein lies the rub. Your paralegal will or should know whether he can beat this at trial. But it's not always about the evidence which may be favourable, it sometimes comes down to who's sitting on the bench. Lately, the appointees, at least in the Eastern Region appear to be quite solid and the opportunity for a truly fair trial is better than ever. But, what happens when you take the advice of your paralegal or instruct your paralegal to go to trial, and lose? The next step is appeal - POA appeals are heard in front of a judge who at the very least is a lawyer - not so the Justice of the Peace who convicted you. To get in front of the judge, the fine must be paid first and foremost - numerous documents must be filled out and filed. Once approval is granted and a hearing date set, a factum must be prepared. This is expensive, around 1,500.00, and of course, like going to trial, there is no guarantee.

So, your paralegal is doing exactly the right thing, imo. It's their duty to explore all avenues and if there is an offer to resolve it's his duty to inform you so you can make an informed decision - listen carefully, consider the facts as you know them, and unless (again, imo) it's almost a slam dunk - accept the offer which will be better than the charge you are facing. Hence, the fine is reduced usually to 110.00 - the points are reduced from 6 to three or two and on a really good day perhaps no points and no entry on your driving record.

Don't allow yourself to be confused or rushed. Far too much at stake with a Careless.

Remember, 'a bird in the hand...'


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Re: Hire paralegal or no?
PostPosted: Thu Jul 02, 2015 3:30 pm 
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Thank you for your reply. I think I will go with this paralegal as he previously changed my mother's charge to a bylaw charge thus nothing being recorded on her driving record, simply just a fine. His order of action seems to be firstly attempting to withdraw the charge, then negotiating for a lower charge, hen lastly trial to dispute.


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