In August of 2011 I was pulled over and issued a ticket for unnecessary noise and was also informed by the officer that I was driving under suspension. My suspension was due to an unpaid traffic ticket I had received the September previous. I hadn't paid the ticket because I was financially burdened at the time and incorrectly assumed it would just show up the next time I went to renew my plate stickers. Stupid, I know, but it was my first ticket ever and I wasn't clear on how things worked. I didn't receive any other notice that it was outstanding or that my license was suspended until I was pulled over. The officer issued me two summons for both the drive under suspension and unnecessary noise with a court date in Sept. 2011. He told me to sort out the suspension and bring in proof as well as a receipt from the service station I had JUST had my exhaust serviced at and that they would likely throw out the charges.
Based on the advice I'd read on these forums, I attended the court date and attempted to approach the prosecutor (a lady) in attempts to explain my situation with documentation that I had immediately paid the ticket, and reinstatement fee, and that I had all of my ducks in a row, so to speak. I was hoping she would allow me to plea to a lesser charge at the least. The prosecutor refused to discuss anything with me and I was issued disclosure and told to return for a second appearance a few weeks later. I attempted to call the Crown Attorney's office in the weeks following a few times to request a meeting or conversation to come to resolution. None of my calls were returned. I attended my Second appearance and again attempted to approach the prosecutor who dismissed me again (it was a different attorney this time - a man). Another, third attorney was in attendance who was having the resolution discussions with his clients that I was seeking, so I asked him how to go about having that conversation. He explained that he wasn't sure how my attorney went about his business and that I'd have to call and find out. He also told me to request a charge screening form to see how the prosecutor intended to proceed. I was instructed to return for a third appearance to set a trial date.
I requested the charge screening form and was set to return to court for my third date however due to a scheduling mix up, I missed the date. I called to the courthouse immediately after realizing (which was later that day) and the receptionist told me that the appearance was only to schedule a date and that it would have been done in my absence. I asked her when the date was and she said her file had not been updated yet, but to call back in a week or so to find out. A week went by and I called again to find out my court date - the receptionist told me again that it had not been input yet, but that I would be mailed a notice of the date in advance of my trial. I was relieved and didn't think much more of it, awaiting notification of the trial date.
Earlier this week I received a notice from the MTO in the mail informing me that be license had been suspended again due to being convicted with driving under suspension on September 13th, 2012. I had missed my trial date because I wasn't informed of when it was - hindsight being 20/20, I should have called in the months following, but I was under the impression that I would be mailed the date based on the information provided by the receptionist at the courthouse - and since it had been so long since I'd heard anything, it wasn't at the forefront of my mind. I did a search on these forums and attended the courthouse this morning to request a reopening of my case since I was unable to defend myself at trial. The lady at the counter told me that it was my responsibility to know when the next action on my case was and suggested the only recourse I now have is to appeal the decision, since it was a Part III summons and the summons itself was notice of trial.
So now I am wondering how to go about processing the appeal and whether or not it is even worth it at this point. I had really hoped to have an opportunity to explain my situation to the prosecutor thinking that a resolution would be likely. Now everything has proceeded in my absence and it seems I'm left without a license for the next 6 months (which is my only transportation to and from work), as well as a hefty fine and surely huge insurance increases.
I have a couple questions about appealing based upon section 11B, if this is even grounds for appeal - in that my trial date was more than a full year after the offence (pulled over August 4th, 2011, convicted Sept 13, 2012). Will this fly?
I also noticed an error with my name on the "Information" form enclosed in my disclosure. I have read that this "Information" form is essentially the listing of charges in a summons case, as opposed to the face of a ticket in a minor offence. They misspelled my first name twice on the form, and while they have corrected this for the first charge (unnec. noise), they have left it in error for the second charge (driving under suspension). Is this considered a fatal error? Would it now be forced since I was convicted?
If I am not able to appeal to have the conviction overturned entirely, is there any recourse that would allow me to lessen the severity of the consequences at this point? While I can't exactly afford the fine and insurance increases, I am much more concerned about having a means of transportation for the next six months. No one else in my household drives as of yet. My fiance recently obtianed a G1 license (long overdue), however isn't scheduled for a G2 road test until March.
Any advice would be appreciated at this point. I understand the missteps I've made in not diligently pursuing the information I required in the first place - trust me, lesson learned.
Kind regards to all.