I just wanted to get your thoughts, since I've been obsessing about my recent encounter with the police.
I was driving eastbound around 8 PM this past week on the 407. I didn't think I was going that quickly or above the pace of traffic, but I noticed a grey cruiser behind me with the lights on. It was an OPP officer who came up to my car, said I was doing 165 KM/H, then basically called in a tow truck and suspended my license and impounded my car for 7 days. He then told me I'm scheduled for a Summons in Newmarket in late July.
This has been a frustrating experience (I blame myself for not keeping to 100 KM/H), but I pretty much work from home, so the loss of a car isn't a huge calamity.
What was frustrating is that I am POSITIVE that I never went above 150 KM/H. I don't have any proof of it this and I did get pulled over for a reason, but I honestly don't believe that I was going 165 KM/H.
I was given one charge, which was "Stunt Driving - 165 KM/H in a posted 100 KM/H zone". I was fully sober and not charged with anything else.
Anyhow, after reading into the details on this law, I saw that they could impose jail time for a year, and license suspension for up to two years. As much as it doesn't help me, I think this law is draconian, because there were already speeding laws on the books beforehand, but I am where I am.
I have a decent driving record - I have two driving tickets in my history:
1) Going <10 KM/H over limit on a street; this occurred in April 2009
2) Going 55 KM/H in a 40 KM/H posted zone; occurred in May 2012 (convicted in January 2013; paralegal only helped to reduce the fine, not the actual conviction).
I don't have any demerit points at the current time.
I interviewed a few paralegals about this case, and they were all fairly evasive and said the most likely scenario is that I get plead down to 49+ under Section 128, with a fine.
To be honest, I was less than impressed with the paralegals, and so I contacted a few criminal lawyers. Several said they wouldn't take non-criminal cases and also said I would likely get plead down, but I finally got in touch with (and hired) a well-known criminal lawyer who laid everything out along with a plan of action, and has successfully defended this type of case in the past. We're going out to the location where I was caught on Sunday to take photos and assess the conditions of that stretch road, so we'll see what happens.
My goals are:
1) NOT GO TO JAIL (I realize it's unlikely for a first time offense where nobody was injured, but you never know)
2) Avoid further suspension of license
My lawyer said that there is literally no chance of me going to jail, and I shouldn't panic over it because it's just very unlikely. I realize I will probably pay double or triple my current going rate for insurance (assuming my insurer doesn't drop me - my insurance rates right now are pretty cheap for where I live in the GTA, but that's probably going away), but I need my license for commuting to work, so I'm open to pleading if/when the option become available. He just wants to avoid me getting my license suspended for a year, which he said was a possibility if the prosecutor isn't feeling generous.
Anyhow, I'm obviously regretting this situation because it's not only a financial burden, but also like a personal failure. I always put my phone on "Airplane mode" before I drive to avoid the temptation of driving while texting, and never answer the phones either, so I don't know why I had this lapse in judgment . I also hate the feeling that this is hanging over my head for the next several months, and I find it hard to get it out of my head.
I'm just opening the thread to thoughts and comments, because there are a lot of great people on this board. Do you folks think I am taking the right approach with hiring a lawyer? Will it look like I'm "buying justice" if the Crown and JP see me with a lawyer like this? The only comment I have on him is that he does seem gung-ho about taking this case to trial, whereas I am more open to a settlement if I can avoid the STUNT charge/further license suspension.
You weren't impressed with the paralegals you dealt with - fair enough. Your lawyer seems reasonable. I don't think your decision is unreasonable. If you are concerned about trial, perhaps you should talk to your lawyer further about what his thoughts are and why he's choosing to go that route. Ultimately, it is your decision - you are the client. However, if he's got some sort of rock-solid strategy for crushing your charge, then I think it may be worthwhile to explore it. Ask him about an appeal if this doesn't go the way you/he hopes/thinks it will.
For reference, there have been some cases of the 165-170 km/h range where the end result was a $2000 fine and a 15-day licence suspension. Main thing at this point is to communicate with your lawyer.
http://www.OntarioTicket.com OR http://www.OHTA.ca
Your lawyer seems to be doing the right things when it comes to independent recollection, taking images, he'll probably ask him to describe the scene, etc... but I would weigh your options when going to trial. Obviously, it's impossible to know how strong your case is without getting disclosure, and I'm not even sure the lawyer will ever show you disclosure, but assuming you got a reputable lawyer with experience - I'd trust him and just stop worrying about it. In the grand scheme of things, it's a provincial offence and it's not worth stressing over - the main problem is a lot of people start stressing over these tickets and forget how little it will matter overall in your life. That said, talk to your lawyer, if the prosecution is willing to plead down to a lesser charge, it'll be significantly better than being charged with stunt driving. Ask him of his honest opinion of your percentages of winning, ask him about your case and look at it objectively (a lot of lawyers get so caught up because of how much they've invested in a case, they start looking at it subjectively and think their possibility of success is greater than it actually is).
That said, in your situation - the fact that you've went to the extent of hiring a lawyer (law school is expensive, your legal fees will reflect that) - I'm under the impression you don't want to plea bargain, and he's probably under the same impression. If you're seriously open to it, let him know because quite frankly - there's not many people who would hire an actual lawyer with the intent to plea bargain - which is the same lens he is viewing it from and that is probably why you think he's not willing to plea bargain. Also, from reading your initial post - you strongly give off the impression that you have no interest in plea bargaining, so if you came across the same way to him, but are actually open to it, let him know.
Just get on the same page with him, his legal fees probably aren't cheap and from his perspective it would kind of be a scam to simply plea bargain, which you could have done yourself (assuming the crown was willing) and then pay him $1000-5000 in fees for him to do that for you. Lastly, on a mostly irrelevant note, your first charge of going less than 10KM/H over the limit, that was reduced, correct? Or did an officer actually charge you for that?
It sounds like you have found a lawyer that is interested in fighting the charge for you and not just plea bargaining like the others you talked to.
You are paying him, so make sure you talk to him about his plan of attack and about the disclosure. If he has not received disclosure by the trial date, he should be asking for an adjournment so he has time to review it (reading disclosure for 20 minutes before a trial is not enough time). He should be willing to sit down with you and go thru the disclosure line by line and explain to you the good, the bad and the ugly. You are paying him so don't be afraid to ask him to do this. He should point out all the strong points for the prosecution in the disclosure, and also point out the weak points which he will attack in cross-examination.
Also read this topic: http://www.ontariohighwaytrafficact.com/topic7032.html and there are a couple links in that topic that you might want to print out and give to your lawyer. Specifically, the very first link in the first post "Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory" and the link in the second post "Reporting A Motor Vehicle Accident" ... these may provide an extra point to attack during trial specifically with regards to identifying the driver.
This is not the first or second time I've seen you type something like this - I don't know if you're angry, feel you got screwed along the way somewhere, or are simply ignorant of the profession and its procedures.jsherk wrote: It sounds like you have found a lawyer that is interested in fighting the charge for you and not just plea bargaining like the others you talked to.
When a lawyer or paralegal obtains disclosure, reviews it and meets with the prosecutor to determine their position, an offer to resolve is often the outcome of those meetings - naturally, an offer to resolve must be better than the charge the defendant is facing - at this point not only is it incumbent upon counsel to inform their client of the offer, it is also their legal duty.
While explaining the offer to resolve, the client frequently has questions that counsel can answer - however, the bottom line is; the client is now fully informed and can make a decision as to outcome. Because the offer has now been discussed, the client can instruct their counsel to go back to the table and request a better offer if there is one to be had. If there isn't, nothing ventured...
That's the way it works, and that's the way it's supposed to work - having you cast erroneous aspersions is harmful and unnecessary to a process that results in satisfactory outcomes for all involved.
There is nothing erroneous about what I said. I simply congratulated him on not simply going with the first paralegal he called that was not willing to do much more than make a plea for him. My comment was on the fact that my experience has also led me to the same conclusion as SteveF about being "less than impressed" with the legal profession. Many (not all) paralegals and lawyers are not interested in doing the hard it work it takes to win a case, but are more interested in a quick buck to make a plea bargain for you, that you probably could have made yourself.SteveF wrote:I interviewed a few paralegals about this case, and they were all fairly evasive and said the most likely scenario is that I get plead down to 49+ under Section 128, with a fine.
To be honest, I was less than impressed with the paralegals, and so I contacted a few criminal lawyers.
And at no time did I ever suggest SteveF should not consider a plea deal. I very explicitly said he should discuss the details of his case with his lawyer and find out the lawyers plan of attack.
I agree that a good lawyer should also discuss plea bargain pros and cons with the client, but I am not impressed when this is their first suggestion without having seen disclosure and reviewing the details of the case.
And as it states at the bottom of all my posts: "This is not legal advice, only my opinion". I am entitled to my opinion of the legal profession in Canada, and you are welcome to disagree with my opinion and state your own opinion.
And as a general comment/opinion about our Canadian Justice system, I hope SteveF can afford his right to a fair trial and his right to be innocent until proven guilty.
Like I said - I just want to avoid additional insurance surcharges beyond the one ticket for speeding. Even if I have one major violation on record and my insurance doubles, I can live with that (my record for the previous ticket will be clean before my next renewal date). However, a suspension plus speeding (is this a Serious violation, as opposed to Major?) would be really bad and would probably result in me getting dumped by the insurance, and then I'll end up with Facility Insurance or one of the high risk companies, and I'll be paying through the nose.
Just as a side note, does anyone know what the insurance rates generally go for one you into this pool? I've put in some quote requests into online sites and they come back at $12K a year - I don't know if that's the going rate, or if it's on the high end.
I also want to say that I think this whole stunt driving law is absurd. If the intention was to stop Fast & Furious-like racers, that's one thing - but they just lump every single speeder 50 KM/H+ into this category. Other than a cash grab, I don't understand why the government would do this is there were already legitimate laws under 128 to deal with speeding. I agree that speeding is wrong and irresponsible, but why do create new rules if you can't enforce the old ones? Another scam by the Liberals...
Also, just to answer someone else's question about that ticket for <10 KM/H back in 2009, it was reduced. I was caught on a notorious speed trap where there is a huge dip into valley and then you have to accelerate to get up the road. People are ALWAYS caught on this particular road, so there's not much you can do to avoid it other than watching the odometer like a hawk.