Today was a bigger success than I ever thought possible given the 4 charges against me. I followed a lot of the advice on this forum (read it back to front yesterday, every single thread, for all the information I could possibly gather) and came to court today extremely well prepared. This paid off big time.
Result of today: Drive-no license and Fail to Change address charge. The 2 other charges were dropped. I was given 2 months to pay my fines.
Here is what I did...
- Gather all of your documented proof that you took care of any outstanding fines, reinstatement fees, etc. and bring those documents with you.
- In the same folio that you carry those documents, include your insurance, drivers license and ownership *these were the first things the Prosecutor asked to see*
- Dress nicely. Suit and tie for men, skirt and blouse for women, sturdy shoes (no overly high heels or flip flops - think business casual attire) - a lot of people will say that your clothes don't matter. This is just not true. If you look well put together and respectable they are more inclined to treat you as a well put together and respectable person. This is known the world over by all Managers of personnel in white collar (I am one of them).
- Get there very early. I was scheduled for 9am and I was the first person there at 8:15; this gave me a chance to talk to the Prosecutors Assistant before the Prosecutor arrived. This set the tone for my visit. I asked if the Prosecutor would see me before court commenced, and was told that he would.
- I was the first person to speak with the Prosecutor and based on my observations this was VERY SMART. He was sympathetic, kind and was cracking jokes to try and make me smile (to be fair I was a nervous wreck, this was my first run in with the law).
- The reason I say to be first in line if you can is because as the morning wore on and he saw person after person he became visibly shorter in temperament. I could tell he was irritated with many people because they were ignorant, had not paid outstanding fines and, in the case of one man, the Prosecutor was visibly angry because the man had a suspended license and DROVE to the courthouse (and admitted it... ?? crazy). I got to see the Prosecutor while he was fresh, early in the morning and he hadn't had to deal with any *EDIT* prior to seeing me. I 100% believe this worked in my favor.
- When you meet, shake his hand and look him in the eye - express remorse for what you did and the desire never to do it again.
- Be respectful ("yes sir" and "no sire").
- Have your paperwork in order. As I mentioned earlier, the first thing he asked for was my license, insurance and ownership. All of these document combined proved that I had dealt with the other issues identified in my case.
- In my case, the Prosecutor said he would get back to me with an offer. We went into court (do not sit outside waiting to be called, this is unlikely to happen, they closed the doors and had I waited outside I never would have known what was happening). There was a long list of cases before mine. It moved fairly quickly. The judge asked if there was anyone who wanted to talk to the Prosecutor who had NOT yet been seen and many people raised their hands. The judge called a recess and we all lined up to speak with the Prosecutor.
- Again, I made sure to speak to him immediately. I positioned myself so that I was close to the Prosecutor and when the recess was called I was 2nd in line.
- He spoke to me and he gave me what I consider to be a very fair deal. He was not so considerate to other people. Mainly the ones who were disrespectful or unprepared. Again I stress, dress nice, speak respectfully, BE HUMBLE.
- Eventually the judge called me up, the Prosecutor explained the situation, the judge asked how I plead to the AMENDED charges and I plead guilty. They handed me a piece of paper explaining how I could pay my fines and I was on my way!
If anyone has questions about the process, or anything that I did (as mentioned above) you can post them in this thread and I will reply as soon as I can. Having been through this - and now being on the other side - I can state that it is a very serious offence, you MUST take it seriously, if you can afford legal counsel I would highly recommend it (if you are unable to adequately represent yourself, if you are not well spoken, if you suffer from a language-barrier or any kind, if you are unable to be there by the time of your first court appearance, or if your changes are more serious than mine were).
Mainly I chalk up my positive outcome to advanced preparation, arriving very early, articulating myself well, showing remorse and respect, and express sincerely that I was sorry for the mistakes I had made.
Good luck to you!!