To be honest, it wasn't the fine that I cared about, but to ensure that the report doesn't go on my abstract/MTO since bicycles should not accumulate points and convictions do not send to MTO. So all I wanted was my driver's license removed to ensure my insurance doesn't see my offence.
Has anyone experienced something similar? Do officer's "words" or "notes" constitutes and supersede all evidence? Is it inappropriate that they will further increase the fine if you lose a case? It seems that at the end of the day, they just scare you into pleading guilty? What justice is that? I honestly just wanted a fair trial.
Both the court clerk and police officer should have known better than to delve in to your case or discuss its merits. The clerk must remain independent at ALL times; they are not part of the adversarial process. As for the officer, he/she should only speak to you at your request and only to review their 'notes' with you. That's it! They should never discuss the merits of your case. They are strictly there as a witness---nothing more. However, many times they unintentionally overstep that line as part of their human nature. The problem though is that because of their public role as an agent of the Crown, most people will hold their comments to a higher authority than a lay person. It is for this reason that officers must make a conscious effort not to cross that line.
Now, regarding your specific case, you certainly could try to appeal the decision, but it will likely be an up-hill battle not only to prove, but cost-wise. It simply is not worth your while given the deal you got and what you'd end up paying anyway to appeal and/or if later convicted.
As for getting a higher fine in court after trial, you are never suppose to be penalized for exercising your right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, theoretically, all things equal, you should suffer the same penalty as if you plead guilty as if you are found guilty. However, in traffic offences, the 'set fines' (i.e the fines that most people see on their tickets) are not what the HTA sets out for those offences. Rather, those are pre-set fines that have been set by an order of a judge for anyone not wishing to dispute their offence. That is, if you simply pay the pre-set fine out of court, then the 'set fine' always applies. However, the moment you go in to the court and either dispute or plead guilty, the 'statutory fine' is what the justice must use. In many cases, that is significantly higher than what the 'set fine' would have been. For instance, the set fine for not wearing a seat-belt is $200, but the statutory fine is a minimum of $200 to a maximum of $1,000. So, if you fight a seat belt ticket and lose, you could actually face a $1,000 fine!!! Its a bit confusing to justify how this is permitted due to the notion I mention above about not being penalized for going to trial, but this 'set-fine' regime has been accepted by the courts as being reasonable and not unconstitutional.
Can you comment on officer's "notes" being evidence? He had no photo evidence or anything. Do you think he would've proven me guilty simply by saying "I saw him run a red light"?
As for whether him saying 'I saw him run a red light' is enough to convict, it all comes down to a balance of credibility. The officer's testimony is NOT held to any higher degree than anyone else; they are just a witness like everyone else. So, to put it simply---the officer's testimony is not the end of the discussion. If it were, then there would be no need for a trial. Instead, the JP needs to assess whether they believe that testimony or not (in whole or in part). Most courts will conduct a W(D) analysis to balance witness credibility; that's the legal test to be used. You can read the Supreme Court decision of R.v.W.(D) here. That's why, when an accused 'cross-examines' the officer, they want to make sure they poke holes in the officer's testimony so as to make it as less reliable and/or believe as possible. That way, the JP will hopefully be left with reasonable doubt.
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