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Citizen demands charges be laid - Cell Phone
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2010 5:38 pm 
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I was recently wrongfully ticketed for driving while using a cell phone. My cell phone bill is detailed and will clearly show that I was not driving with a cell phone. The policeman gave me the ticket because a citizen called them, reported me, filed a report, and "demanded that I be charged". The policeman was very polite and actually appeared to sympathize with me, but said he had no choice.

My pride is only worth so much, but a ticket for driving while using a cell phone will affect my insurance over 3 years much more than the direct costs involved even though there are no points. The biggest problem is that I was on Manitoulin Island in Northern Ontario 1,000km away from home. I can stay free while I'm there, but gasoline is going up thanks to the HST :cry:

I do not know where to post the following questions:

1. Is it really true that a citizen can DEMAND that charges be laid?
2. How do I go about defending myself?
3. Can my wife and son who were with me provide testimony in writing without going back up north with me?
4. Will a copy of my cell phone bill be considered acceptable evidence?
5. I have bluetooth in my truck. Will a copy of my vehicle invoice be considered acceptable evidence?
6. I have been told that the word of a local holds more water in a local court than someone from the Big City. Is this actually true?
7. If I do defend myself successfully, could I recover my costs for traveling north to do so? Is there any chance that they could be assigned to the unqualified citizen who can't even see straight?

Thanks in advance for any advice you folks can provide.

Cheers!

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Re: Citizen demands charges be laid - Cell Phone
PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2010 6:13 pm 
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Susquatch wrote:
1. Is it really true that a citizen can DEMAND that charges be laid?

They can demand whatever they want, but an officer is under no obligation to charge if a citizen tells them to.
Susquatch wrote:
2. How do I go about defending myself?

Request disclosure and then assess what evidence the officer and/or witnesses are going to be presenting. Then you will have a better idea of what kind of defence you may have.
Susquatch wrote:
3. Can my wife and son who were with me provide testimony in writing without going back up north with me?

They can submit an affidavit but the best evidence rule would dictate that they need to give verbal testimony in court.
Susquatch wrote:
4. Will a copy of my cell phone bill be considered acceptable evidence?
No, that just means you weren't talking on your cell phone. It's not proof that you weren't on a cell phone at the time of the alleged incident.
Susquatch wrote:
5. I have bluetooth in my truck. Will a copy of my vehicle invoice be considered acceptable evidence?
No, that's irrelevant too. Same reason as #4.
Susquatch wrote:
6. I have been told that the word of a local holds more water in a local court than someone from the Big City. Is this actually true?
Not at all.
Susquatch wrote:
7. If I do defend myself successfully, could I recover my costs for traveling north to do so? Is there any chance that they could be assigned to the unqualified citizen who can't even see straight?
No and no.

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Re: Citizen demands charges be laid - Cell Phone
PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2010 8:07 pm 
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Thanks for the info.

I will request a disclosure, but I can't imagine what it could possibly be other than a statement from the citizen.

Basically, what I read in your response is that any character can claim I was talking on the cell phone and nothing I can provide provides any meaningful evidence otherwise.... That suggests that it boils down to my word against his? Does he have some kind of superior credibility because he is the one who demanded that I be charged?

Whatever happened to reasonable proof and reasonable doubt? Won't any of the evidence I have suggested at least help provide reasonable doubt?

Is the additional testimony of my wife and son worth anything vs this character?

Can I request a court hearing after seeing the evidence, or do I have to request a court date and then request disclosure?

Cheers!

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 28, 2010 11:08 pm 
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I understand where you're coming from. It sounds like this case is their word against yours. In all cases, the burden of proof is on the state and they present their evidence in it's totality (even if that's just one statement from a witness) and then you present yours (even if that's just your own statement). Then the Justice gets to decide who is credible. No citizen automatically has more value to their word than another.

My opinion is that, unless there is some corroborating evidence, or multiple witnesses, there's not usually grounds to even lay a charge, much less sustain a conviction. But that's besides the point now, since the charge has been laid.

You can contact your local court house to find out what their procedure is to obtain disclosure and whether you have to ask for a court date first or what.

If the disclosure only contains the one witnesses statement, that's great for you, because I don't see how that is going to be given any more weight in court and if there is a reasonable doubt then the Justice must acquit.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 29, 2010 2:49 pm 
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Thanks Simon,

I feel better now. That is what I will do and we will go from there.

Cheers!

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