On aug 2008, I had an accident and hit another car. and was given a ticket for HTA 144( 18 ). At the time, based on a witness, the cop said I ran a red light. I challenged the ticket (with assistance from a paralegal), and received a letter for the court date (May 25), with the specific charge of HTA 144
Last week, I received a 'NOTICE of MOTION' that changed the court date to April 29, BUT the charge was changed to HTA 130 (careless driving)
Can they do that? I mean, I have the ticket, and it shows 144( 18 )
what is my course of action?
Yes, it is allowed, but changing the trial date and amending the charge to something more substantial is somewhat abnormal. Have you spoken with your paralegal regarding this yet? While careless driving is one of the most serious charges that can be issued under the Highway Traffic Act, it is also one of the hardest to prove. Your paralegal should actually have an easier time getting this one dismissed as opposed to running the red light. As for changing the date, it should be fairly easy to get it changed to the original date or pushed back further. Almost seems like unilaterally moving the date up and amending the charge at the same time is acting in bad faith.
I informed him about it. Said he will check/clarify with them first. Hopefully something good will come out of it
Carefully reread your notice of motion.
The charge you have is before the court and it cannot be amended or changed without the court's consent. Likely there is a court date on April 29 to hear a motion to change the charge to careless driving.
There are two issues that are raised. First, the Crown would not seek the more severe charge of careless driving unless they have information that warrants this heavy charge. You should have disclosure by now and would know why they are seeking the greater offence.
Second, as Radar Identified has stated, it is a much harder charge to prove. Why would they make it more difficult for themselves to convict you?
You need to be very strategic about what you are going to do about this. It sounds like either charge will require the witness to show up. At first glance [without knowing any specific details about what happened] you have a much better chance of fighting the careless driving charge.
If your only strategy is to plead guilty to a lesser charge than try to keep the lower red light offence and plead that down. If you plan to fight the charge, then take the careless driving charge.
BUT read this case R. v. Penketh, 2008 ONCJ 596. The important point is that the defendant did not testify and the defence offered no evidence. Don't make this mistake.
Your paralegal should work with you on developing your defence strategy.
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