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My 144(18) courtroom experience
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 1:44 pm 
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Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2010 12:11 pm
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I just wanted to share my experience today with my summons for HTA 144[18] and would like to hear about opinions of what I did was the right choice.

I've read up a lot on ideas from members and also the R v. Sandhu case, to prepare for my defense.

Situation:
I was travelling north bound, behind a TTC bus at 30km/hr (one car length in space). I couldn't pass the TTC bus because of construction and with the bus picking up passengers, that was my rate of speed. My speed can be verified with a video taken from my cell phone (which has 30fps @ 640x480) on a four lane road. Because of construction at the time, the south bound lanes were closed, which resulted in single lane traffic going north & south.

I came to the intersection on a green light, but as I crossed the red-light stop-line, it turned amber, which then proceeded to turn red. Because of the rate of speed I was travelling at, I still had not completed the passing of the intersection when it was red. The intersection, from the north bound traffic lights and the south bound traffic lights are 25 metres.

In the south bound lane, there was an ETF SUV that just pulled up to the intersection, but was stopped behind another vehicle. I know this, because the ETF SUV had to turn on its flashers to have the vehicle in front move up ahead, so they could make a U-Turn to pull me over.

Needless to say, the officer handed me an HTA 144[18] infraction and this happened @ 12:32am (traffic was minimal)

My Defense:
Requested for full disclosure. I had confirmation that the prosecutor's office had received my letter for full disclosure on March 11, but I had not received anything. I even called yesterday to see if anything was sent. Nothing...the lady on the phone instructed me to speak to the prosecutor on what action can be taken. My full disclosure request included all relative material available to the crown and the officer's eye medical records (was going to challenge his visual acuity because he was wearing contact lenses!!!) within the last three years, all in respect to the charge of 144[18]. My intent was to declare that I had not received full disclosure and therefore cannot come up with a proper defense. From what I believe, that should result in an adjournment, where another court date is set. From what I understand, that can set me up for an 11b to have the case dismissed.

Had my case had not been adjourned, I would've used the idea of R v. Sandhu to create a case of reasonable doubt. Since the officer and myself were facing in opposite directions, he could not, with 100% certainty, see where the traffic line was when the light turned red. I took a photo from my car to re-enact the position the officer would have been, when he alleged says I had crossed the line on a red light. From his point of view, you could not see the stop line at all, at which he allegedly says I had crossed when the light turned red. And also in relation to the R v. Sandhu case, since the officer was one car behind the intersection, he could not, with 100% certainty, see the colour of the traffic light facing me as I went through the intersection.

I also had some calculations to further support my claims that the light was still green when I entered the intersection. I timed the traffic light cycle that it took to change from green to amber to red (3 seconds). Since the intersection is 25m (there's a distance calculator for Google Maps that measures the distance between two points) and with a vehicle travelling at 30km/hr, after 3 seconds of time, I would've travelled 900 metres (30km/hr=300m/sec). Even at the designated speed of 50km/hr, I would've travelled only 2499.999999 metres, which is still, mathematically, puts in the intersection when I cross on a green. I had video proof, taken from my cell phone, to show that if travelling at 30km/hr, I could enter the intersection with the traffic light green and still be in the intersection when it cycles from green to amber to red.

All photos & videos were transferred to my laptop. The photos were to show the intersection and the POV the officer was when he allegedly felt I had failed to stop at a red light.

So, that was my defense.

What Happened:
I got called up to the courtroom and presented myself. Soon after, the prosecutor wants to speak to me away from the microphone. She tells me that she noticed I filed for full-disclosure and that she would like to offer me a plea of guilt with a lesser charge and no demerit points. I was taken aback, because the first time I met her, prior to all the proceedings this morning, she just asked me how I wanted to plead and I told her "not guilty". I was confused as to why she didn't offer the plea the first time I met her. I told her that I need a few minutes to think about her proposal. During that time, she waves the officer towards herself and whispers the situation to him. I could pick up a little bit of it...she basically said that I had filed for full-disclosure and I had not received it and was offering me a plea of guilt on lesser charge with no demerit points. She asked the officer to explain to me the options I had. The two options being: 1. Take the plea or 2. Go to trial. The officer and myself stepped outside of the courtroom to speak. At that moment, I notice that the officer had his notepad with him. He acknowledges that I had filed for full-disclosure and explains that I have two options, which I mentioned about. I asked the officer if I could see his notes right there and then, but he said no and that if I wanted to go trial, he would photocopy them and bring them back to me. I thought it was strange that he couldn't just show me right there and then. It should've clicked that maybe he had nothing at all and the case would've been dismissed for lack of evidence.

So, after a few minutes of thinking, I weighed out the fact that I don't know all of the loop holes of the courtroom (lack of experience) and took the easy way out with a plea of guilt to a lesser charge (no demerit points).

I'm bitter sweet about it, because I know for certain that I'm innocent, but I was only 80% certain that I could've cast a case of reasonable doubt. That remaining 20% had scared me and I couldn't take a chance of being found guilty from not being able create enough of a reasonable doubt. Prior to today, my record has been spotless for the past five years.

Did I do the right thing with the guilty plea of a lesser charge or would I have won with what I have planned for my defense?

I kinda had a feeling that the prosecutor didn't have enough to go about and find me 100% guilty of the charge, hence she brought up the plea to a lesser charge. Or maybe she felt I would've used the adjournment option and use the 11b option to have it dismissed...


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PostPosted: Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:53 pm 
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Joined: Mon Sep 08, 2008 8:26 pm
Posts: 2881
Location: Toronto
A reduction from a Red Light - Fail to Stop to a 0 demerit point offence is always a good thing, plus your insurance company likely won't freak out over it.

I'd say you did the right thing. Could you have won? Don't know. And I don't want to speculate either. You got a good result. If I were in your shoes, I wouldn't lose any sleep over it.

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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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PostPosted: Thu Apr 29, 2010 10:33 am 
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Joined: Mon Mar 01, 2010 12:11 pm
Posts: 5
thx Radar. I was just trying to figure out what the strategy of the prosecutor was. It was strange that she didn't offer me the deal at first, but only to bring it up while I stood up in court. I was basically called last to stand in front of the Justice of Peace.

I was going to fight the charges, which would make sense why I was called last.

And red light traffic violations definitely are more of the serious kind.

But you are right, it's better to be on the safer side than to call her bluff.

I hope this experience can help others on the board too.


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