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Plead or Request court date? (Worthwhile?)
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PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 11:12 am 
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About a week back I was charged with using a handheld device while driving – without getting into the nitty-gritty details, while stopped at a light I touched my phone to activate the voice feature, and unfortunately since it was not mounted to the dash I did have it in my hand for a brief enough time that it was noticed by a hidden OPP officer observing the intersection, and I was pulled over.

It was a polite interaction with the officer, however I did end up with a ticket. I don't recall the exact conversation however in the interest of full disclosure here I may have inadvertently admitted guilt, however I can't be 100% sure.

Originally I had planned to plead guilty with an explanation to the JP and ask for a reduced fine (option 2), however it was subsequently suggested by a few people that I request a court date and at least make some effort to fight the ticket – this is where my questions are however.

- Am I correct in assuming that once I request a court date that any hope of having the fine reduced goes out the window?

- By requesting a court date even knowing that possibly the officers notes incriminate me, I am I risking either in increased fine or harsher punishment come my court day by having done dragged it to court?

- If I jump through all the hoops for a court date however it becomes obvious to me that I am wasting my time even standing in front of the judge knowing that I am going to be held guilty, is there an opportunity before that point that I would be able to change my plea, pay the fine, and be done with the situation? This kind of goes back to the first question, is all hope of a reduced dollar amount (at the very least) out the window at that point?

I guess my ultimate goal of requesting a court date is hoping that the officer may have made insufficient notes to make the charge stick, may not show up in court (it was in an area with apparent frequent transfers of officers between locations, so who knows), or perhaps the ticket will time out under the situations I've read about that deal with court delays and I can petition to have it tossed accordingly - possibly the best case scenario?

Ultimately if none of those work and I end up standing in front of the judge knowing I'm in a lost cause, what ultimately could be the outcome?

Thanks in advance for guidance.


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Re: Plead or Request court date? (Worthwhile?)
PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 12:59 pm 
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High-miler wrote:
- Am I correct in assuming that once I request a court date that any hope of having the fine reduced goes out the window?


If there's room to make you an offer, they'll still do it.

High-miler wrote:
- By requesting a court date even knowing that possibly the officers notes incriminate me, I am I risking either in increased fine or harsher punishment come my court day by having done dragged it to court?


Unless your charge was reduced at the scene, you're not going to get any surprises.

High-miler wrote:
- If I jump through all the hoops for a court date however it becomes obvious to me that I am wasting my time even standing in front of the judge knowing that I am going to be held guilty, is there an opportunity before that point that I would be able to change my plea, pay the fine, and be done with the situation? This kind of goes back to the first question, is all hope of a reduced dollar amount (at the very least) out the window at that point?


You can plead guilty at your trial date if that's what you want to do.


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Re: Plead or Request court date? (Worthwhile?)
PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 1:11 pm 
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Thank you, very much appreciated.

So, if the other avenues to see the charge go away fail and my court date arrives, being found guilty is apparently obvious, worst case they don't offer me any discount and I pay the full hit then?

Will a JP or the prosecutor want to speak to me again before I actually go into the courtroom in an effort to resolve early, or is that now past? And if so will they disclose if the officer is a no show at that point or will they hold their cards close to their chest still?

If I end up in front of the judge and everything else is against me at that moment, can I basically state "Sir, I wish to change my plea to guilty" and avoid the potential lambasting? ;). And if I opt for that route and I haven't been offered a reduced fine, can the judge grant one if I make it part of my "change of heart" plea of guilty?

Thanks again.


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Re: Plead or Request court date? (Worthwhile?)
PostPosted: Tue Mar 22, 2016 10:33 pm 
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Bump, any other guidance on my last response above appreciated - headed to the courthouse location tomorrow morning to process the ticket so I'd like to get things 100% confirmed before committing to anything.


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Re: Plead or Request court date? (Worthwhile?)
PostPosted: Wed Mar 23, 2016 1:34 am 
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High-miler wrote:
So, if the other avenues to see the charge go away fail and my court date arrives, being found guilty is apparently obvious, worst case they don't offer me any discount and I pay the full hit then?


If they don't offer you anything, yes you can just plead guilty if that's what you want. They'll make you an offer (if any) and will ask you how you want to continue.

High-miler wrote:
Will a JP or the prosecutor want to speak to me again before I actually go into the courtroom in an effort to resolve early, or is that now past? And if so will they disclose if the officer is a no show at that point or will they hold their cards close to their chest still?


Usually they'll get everyone to line up and they'll look over your charge one by one. It gives them a chance to offer any deals, see who is actually in attendance, and how people are pleading so they can organize the rest of that time block.

Sometimes they'll let you know if the officer is not there, other times they'll wait for you to make a plea first.


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Re: Plead or Request court date? (Worthwhile?)
PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2016 2:45 pm 
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Ok, filed for a court date. Received a "Notice of appointment" in the mail Friday to speak to the prosecutor. I'm presuming this is an early resolution appointment.

It states "If I do not exercise this option, a notice of trial will be mailed to you as requested", so I'm assuming if I have no interest in this I should just inform them I wish to skip it.

So....is this worthwhile?

1/ Can the prosecutor at this level reduce the ticket to something lesser? I don't care about the points, I care about the charge.
2/ Should I be requesting disclosure before this meeting...or will it make a difference? Will I even have time? The meeting is in 19 days.
3/ I'm presuming I should be very, very careful about what I say at this meeting as the typical "What you say can be used against you" applies?

Thanks again for everyones advice.


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Re: Plead or Request court date? (Worthwhile?)
PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2016 3:25 pm 
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High-miler wrote:
1/ Can the prosecutor at this level reduce the ticket to something lesser? I don't care about the points, I care about the charge.


Handheld device is already falls in the minor bracket when it comes to insurance. There's nothing lower than that. If you're worried about the charge, getting it reduced is probably not going to help you much in the long run. A reduced charge would likely fall into this bracket anyways. Your insurance is your problem, not theirs type of deal. They'd be interested in the things they could control (e.g. a charge with a lower fine, points, or both)

High-miler wrote:
2/ Should I be requesting disclosure before this meeting...or will it make a difference? Will I even have time? The meeting is in 19 days.


It's not really a trial. If they can offer you something, they will. That's basically it. They aren't really there to hear a long winded argument. If that's the case, they'll book you trial.

High-miler wrote:
3/ I'm presuming I should be very, very careful about what I say at this meeting as the typical "What you say can be used against you" applies?


See above.


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Re: Plead or Request court date? (Worthwhile?)
PostPosted: Sun Apr 10, 2016 4:38 pm 
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Thanks. I'm just a little concerned about the optics of the Handheld Devices charge in the end. My company took great issue with it (going so far as suspending me for a day over the issue...which I'm fighting as I haven't even been convicted of anything yet) but more or a concern is that I returned to Motorcycling this year and my motorcycle insurance company (different from my cars) will likely take it as a bigger deal than it actually is, particularly since it will be on my record at my first renewal with them this coming December. Motorcycle insurance is a whole different ball of wax.

My car insurance I'm less concerned about. We've been with them for 15 years and both have otherwise clean records...so if it costs me a bit extra at renewal it's not a biggie.

The MC insurance however, well, it could be a much bigger deal.

So...if I read your reply correctly, they can, at this first level meeting do one (or all?) of the following?

1- Reduce the charge to something else with a lower points value (again, not a biggie to me, I have zero right now and aren't concerned about them)?
2- Lower dollar value (sure, a bigger deal vs the $500 for the handheld charge)
3- And perhaps equally as important as #2, change the charge to something alternative other than handheld device still in the minor category? What may they offer up?

The last part would work well from an optics standpoint, as well as giving me some ammunition to tackle my employer suspension issue again.


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Re: Plead or Request court date? (Worthwhile?)
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2016 5:38 pm 
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The prosecutor can (but does not have to) offer you a plea deal for a lesser charge. But remember that even a 0 demerit point charge can still cause your insurance to go up. Insurance puts the charges into three categories: Minor, Major and Serious. So if the current charge is already a minor, then there really is not any charge they can drop it to that also not a minor, meaning ANY minor charge will afffect your insurance the same. But yes they could offer you another charge (minor) that has a lower fine but it would still affect your insurance the same. Now when somebody is charged as a OWNER instead of a DRIVER then it does NOT show up on your record and does NOT affect your insurance at all. So at the meeting you could ask the prosecutor if they would be willing to charge you as the OWNER instead of the DRIVER. Again the prosecutor does not have to do this, but maybe they are in a good and might consider it.

As far as anything you say to the prosecutor, no they can not actually use it against you in court UNLESS they were going to take the witness stand as a witness themselves. I am not aware of a prosecutor ever doing that, so most likely they will not use it against you.

At the early resolution meeting the prosecutor may or may not already have disclosure. You could ask ahead of time for them to have it ready at that meeting, but they have no obligation to have it for you at that meeting. If they do not have it, and they offer you a plea deal you could still very nicely ask "Can I wait and see disclosure before I decide whether or not to accept your offer?" They might say yes (which would be best option) or they might say no (the deal is now or never).

If they do not offer you a plea deal, then you might as well tell him you want a trial and disclosure and go from there.

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Re: Plead or Request court date? (Worthwhile?)
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:04 pm 
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jsherk wrote:
The prosecutor can (but does not have to) offer you a plea deal for a lesser charge. But remember that even a 0 demerit point charge can still cause your insurance to go up. Insurance puts the charges into three categories: Minor, Major and Serious. So if the current charge is already a minor, then there really is not any charge they can drop it to that also not a minor, meaning ANY minor charge will afffect your insurance the same. But yes they could offer you another charge (minor) that has a lower fine but it would still affect your insurance the same.


Thanks - noted.

jsherk wrote:
Now when somebody is charged as a OWNER instead of a DRIVER then it does NOT show up on your record and does NOT affect your insurance at all. So at the meeting you could ask the prosecutor if they would be willing to charge you as the OWNER instead of the DRIVER. Again the prosecutor does not have to do this, but maybe they are in a good and might consider it.


OK, not quite following you here. Are you explaining that the ticket can be applied to myself (driver) or the vehicle (owner)? This happened in a company vehicle. The basis for my companies freakout is that they claimed it went against their record & CVOR and will affect THEIR insurance as well. The officer who wrote the ticket never even asked for the company vehicles ownership and insurance, only taking my drivers licence - I will admit he was really good about the whole situation and it was as cordial as could be for what it was.

My companies claim didn't make any sense to me considering the officer didn't even write the CVOR number on the ticket. The only thing that would notate I was driving a company vehicle whatsoever is that the trucks plate number was on the ticket and the "Commercial" box was ticked yes. As far as I understood (and still understand) the ticket had NOTHING to do with my company and 100% to do with me, my driving record, and in the end, insurance.

Is that the case, or were they right in their claim that this went on their CVOR right away (again, questionable considering I haven't even been technically convicted yet) another load of BS?

jsherk wrote:
At the early resolution meeting the prosecutor may or may not already have disclosure. You could ask ahead of time for them to have it ready at that meeting, but they have no obligation to have it for you at that meeting. If they do not have it, and they offer you a plea deal you could still very nicely ask "Can I wait and see disclosure before I decide whether or not to accept your offer?" They might say yes (which would be best option) or they might say no (the deal is now or never).


Ok, so they may or may not have the disclosure, and I can ask for it there - thanks - but I should specifically request they have it? If the disclosure is nowhere near sufficient to make the charge stick (for example) will he/she potentially offer to toss the charge right then and there? What would constitute sufficient vs insufficient disclosure for the charge to stick or not? If it looks insufficient to me, or is non-existent can I request that the charge is tossed out?

So, If they don't have disclosure ready, don't offer me anything interesting so far as a reduced charge/fine....taking it to trial is the next option then. Will there still be a last second resolution option on the day of the trial (as I experienced before when fighting a minor speeding ticket) or does the early resolution appointment take the place of that?

Really appreciate your time and knowledge everyone.


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Re: Plead or Request court date? (Worthwhile?)
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2016 7:51 pm 
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jsherk wrote:
Now when somebody is charged as a OWNER instead of a DRIVER then it does NOT show up on your record and does NOT affect your insurance at all. So at the meeting you could ask the prosecutor if they would be willing to charge you as the OWNER instead of the DRIVER. Again the prosecutor does not have to do this, but maybe they are in a good and might consider it.


You can't just take any charge and be charged as an owner. The charge has to exist. You can't be as charged as the owner in a handheld device dispute.


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Re: Plead or Request court date? (Worthwhile?)
PostPosted: Mon Apr 11, 2016 9:13 pm 
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bend wrote:
You can't just take any charge and be charged as an owner. The charge has to exist. You can't be as charged as the owner in a handheld device dispute.


Good point, but I was suggesting that maybe the prosecutor would consider a different charge as owner. Most likely they won't, but thought it was worth mentioning. But the owner thing does not work in this case anywasy since the company owns the vehicle.

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Re: Plead or Request court date? (Worthwhile?)
PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2016 12:29 pm 
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Thanks for all those who have offered advice so far. My early resolution appointment is next Friday.

Another quick question - if points were my main concern, what would be a good alternate charge that they may consider that would be less than the 3 points the handheld devices charge carries?


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Re: Plead or Request court date? (Worthwhile?)
PostPosted: Sun Apr 24, 2016 4:12 pm 
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There aren't any alternate charges to a handheld device ticket. The best you can expect would be a reduced fine. The points are applied by the MTO after a conviction is registered. They can't be reduced by the courts at all.
Unless you're a horrible driver and already have quite a few points on your licence, they shouldn't be of concern. Insurance companies don't really care about points, they care about tickets. Although more serious offences do have more points associated to them and they consider many of the 2 and 3 point offences minor.


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Re: Plead or Request court date? (Worthwhile?)
PostPosted: Mon Apr 25, 2016 6:55 am 
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have read all the notes my 2c's

it is a MINOR offence, afa insurance is concerned ANY minor offence is any minor offence.
However SOME insurance companies will choose to ignore it penalty wise;
I know when I spoke to mine, about a previous minor, they where not too concerned (and told me so) the effect on my insurance was nothing
multi car insurance-long time insurance-good standing and home insurance.


SO if you are going to plea bargain you (as already been told) will still end up with a MINOR offence.

for no effect on insurance you MUST go to trial and overturn the ticket no other way,

otherwise, it is JUST an exercise in reducing the fine (BUT NOT having any effect on your insurance status as having a conviction)

You have to weigh up the costs of going to trial, going to the early resolution and the fines concerned.

Lets say for arguments sake:

1> fine of $300
vs
2> getting a reduction to $200
vs
3> Time of work, parking, lost wages, expenses, coffee lunch etc

would 3 equate to more than 2 or more than 1 ?
You then have your answer

_________________
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* NO you cant touch your phone
* Speeding is speeding
* Challenge every ticket
* Impaired driving, you should be locked up UNDER the jail


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