Representation At Court

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Representation At Court

by: Watson18 on

Yesterday my son (19 y/o) and I (Dad) appeared at court to do an Early Resolution for a Red Light Camera Ticket which my son received while driving my wife's car.

The Judge or Justice of the Peace called our case and I wanted to help represent my son with his explanation. We were not fighting the issue he entered the Red Light...that is fact. Only wanted the fine reduced as he's a student and my understanding the min. fine is $200 + victim fine charge $35 + court cost $5 for a total of $240. This is a little steep for a student without an income source while attending college full time. I wanted to bring the financial limitation matter to the courts attention and hope to have the $200 lowered to $100 + 35 + 5 for a total $140.

When I stood with my son the prosecutor or legal clerk asked who I was and advised accordingly. She asked I was the registered owner of the car and indicated it was registered in my wife's name but had documentation to represent her at this court hearing. The snarky lady told me to sit down and I cannot help represent.

The court asked my son if he had an explanation for entering the intersection when the light turn red. He provided as best an answer he could, but in the situation he was facing froze a bit and forget to mention his financial limitations to pay. Judge said you'll be required to pay $200, matter closed.

I find it most disturbing that in such a situation I'm not able to provide some representation so a "rookie" in the court system, but it's okay for an

X-Copper/Ontario Traffic Ticket Fighters expert individual to be there in court with his client and representing on their behalf. Doesn't seem as equity is being exercised.

I want my son to be responsible for his actions, yet I want to be there to prevent him from being taken advantage of because he's still a kid.

Your points of view are welcome.


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by: highwaystar on

Its one thing to appear as 'agent' for someone, and something totally different to 'represent' them. In Ontario, you need to be a lawyer or paralegal to represent someone in traffic court. Section 82 of the POA allows a person in traffic court to act by representative. The definition of "representative" in section 1 says that is "a person authorized under the Law Society Act to represent a person in that proceeding". Under the Law Society Act, that means you are either a licensed lawyer or paralegal.

It would be very unfair (especially to paralegals) to allow lay-people to represent others, including family members, since that would create a loop-hole in the system of professional regulation. After all, paralegals (like lawyers) must now also abide by professional rules, pay dues and pay insurance premiums. If others were allowed to represent someone without being subject to the same professional limitations, the regulatory system would be unfair, not to mention, potentially put the public at risk for having unqualified individuals 'representing' others. It would defeat the purpose of the professional system of regulation.

Just know though that often times, courts WILL allow non-licensees to appear as an 'agent' for someone. That is, they are merely attending in place of the accused to enter a guilty plea or seek an adjournment----they must follow the instructions of the accused and are simply there to vocalize the accused's wishes. However, the moment that person attempts to make a motion, proceed to trial, or do anything beyond preliminary matters, the accused must either attend and self-represent or retain a lawyer or paralegal. After all, at that stage, 'legal services' are now required, including potentially interpreting laws or procedures, giving legal opinions, making submissions to the court and/or forming trial strategies. That's quite different from just being a messenger!

In your situation, your wife wasn't present and she likely was the accused. If you had instructions from her, then you should have been able to enter a guilty plea on her behalf and then make submissions regarding the fine. However, serving as an 'agent' is not an automatic right----the court has discretion on whether to permit you to appear as her 'agent'. Why your son got involved in this case at all is beyond me---after all, he was merely the driver. Red Light Camera tickets go towards the registered owner of the vehicle, so any submissions about your son's financial situation is irrelevant----he's not the one who is legally liable for it; your wife is.

I don't know if your son entered a 'not guilty' plea on behalf of your wife, or whether he entered 'guilty' and then spoke to the fine. Regardless, your son's financial situation is irrelevant---he's not the accused. So, if he started talking about HIS financial situation, the court would likely not adjust the fine in anyway----after all, the court would not have heard any evidence with respect to the the accused; instead it heard submissions about your son's finances. Furthermore, if your son was doing the talking, then more than likely the court allowed him to be your wife's agent. Why would a person need more than 1 agent? Perhaps that's why they didn't allow you to speak on her behalf.

Bottom line: you guys should have done your homework on these issues before proceeding to court----you definitely should have coordinated things better and determined who was going to speak on your wife's behalf. This only shows that your son wasn't the only 'rookie' on the team that day---reaffirming the need for professional regulations of legal representatives! :)

Finally, I'm actually surprised that the prosecutor didn't just offer you a reduced fine; that's usually how those offences are resolved. Hopefully you guys weren't just being greedy and thought you'd get an even bigger reduction in court----that almost never happens!

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