Plead guilty when not. Can I appeal?

Bobert
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Plead guilty when not. Can I appeal?

Unread post by Bobert »

Hi I have a couple questions so I'll explain my situation and any advice would be appreciated.

Can't remember exact date so lets call it some time in 2008 I got a fine for $5000.00 for driving without in insurance. I never paid the fine and in 2012 I was pulled over and the officer asked to see my license. Although I had it on me I figured it would be under suspension for the unpaid fine from years before for insurance and I didn't want him to take my only form of phtoto id from me so I told him I don't have one because it's under suspension (as I assumed it was) so he charged me with driving under suspension. I was unrepresented in court and plead guilty to the charge which further suspended my liscence for 6 mnths and a $1000 fine. (I never paid that fine either) Then I was pulled over this last year and same scenario I told officer I was under suspension received another charge.

I always thought I was in a hopeless situation for my fines that I could never afford to pay them then recently learned I didn't have to risk driving suspended as long as I made any consistent payment even if its only $20 per month so I decided to see how much I owed and was going to set about trying to get legal. Upon doing so I found out the only fine suspending my license was the one I hadn't paid in 2012 for driving while suspended! Which means in 2012 I was not driving while suspended after all! I had plead guilty to something I wasn't.

SO I have some questions:

1. Would it possible to appeal the 2012 conviction (drive while suspended)?
2. IF so and that is overturned would I have any possibility of leaniancy from the courts when I go to deal with the current charge considering if I had not been wrongly convicted the first time I wouldn't have had that fine that would have put me in suspension this time? I know technically I am still guilty this time but the first time I wasn't so just wondering if its at all possible they might consider some slack for that and maybe reduce the charge or something?

One thing I do know if there is any hope of the appeal and or dealing with the current charge I intend on getting representation this time for sure but I just wanted an idea of where I stand right now.

Thanks for any advice you can give!


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highwaystar
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Re: Plead guilty when not. Can I appeal?

Unread post by highwaystar »

By default, its too late to file an appeal. The limitation period is 30 days from the date of the decision you are seeking to appeal. However, in limited cases, a person CAN seek judicial permission to file a Notice of Appeal after the 30 days. In those cases, you have to file an Application for Extension of Time to Appeal and explain why you didn't file your Notice of Appeal within the 30 day timeline.

Just keep in mind that if you are seriously considering an appeal, you need to be prepared for the costs of pursuing such and obtaining transcripts, etc. In most cases, you'll likely also need the assistance of a lawyer, so factor that cost in as well. Paralegals can also help if they have appeal experience.

As for the specifics of your case, be sure you obtain a full driving abstract to determine whether you were indeed suspended at the relevant time. Don't simply rely upon what some court clerk tells you by looking at a screen. If you in fact did plead guilty to an offence that wasn't technically available, a 'miscarriage of justice' has occurred and the appeal court will be more likely to grant you leave to appeal.

Bottom line: the transcripts at your sentencing hearing will be very important since the JP should have satisfied themselves that you were indeed 'suspended' at the time they took your guilty plea. Beyond your driving abstract (i.e. record), the appeal court will want to look at what the trial court did. Hence, be sure you confirm (and re-confirm) your true status at that time.

Be aware though that before you are able to file your Notice of Appeal, you will have to pay the fine that was imposed as part of your sentence. Keep your receipts of such. You'll get a refund if you win your case. If you can't pay your fine beforehand, you need to also seek permission from the court by filing an Application to File an Appeal Without Paying the Fine . If granted, the court may require you to enter into a recognizance (i.e. like bail) whereby if you don't show up for court, they'll come after you for the recognizance ('bail') amount owed.

So, as you can see, your case requires a lot of steps to succeed. You definitely need legal representation. Good luck!


Bobert
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Re: Plead guilty when not. Can I appeal?

Unread post by Bobert »

Thanks for the reply. I planned on paying the fine first as I knew I would have to. I also plan on hiring some representation provided I can afford it. (I am hoping it won't be too expensive) but I do realize I would be far better off if I did as this would be something too difficult to handle on my own. Do you think if I am successful with the appeal I might be able to get some credit for leniency with the current charges? I mean I suppose in truth the current charges I am guilty of but I would think a prosecutor might be willing to drop to an invalid license if they knew had I not been improperly convicted in the first place I would not have been in this situation now? I don't know maybe they won't give any consideration but I was wondering if you think that might be possible?

I know for it to be possible again I would need a lawyer or paralegal to argue on my behalf but knowing the possibilities now provides hope. I plan to actually pay the fines in full this week but it will probably be a few more weeks before I can afford a retainer for a lawyer or paralegal but I may start ordering the transcripts etc first so they are ready to show them.


Stanton
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Re: Plead guilty when not. Can I appeal?

Unread post by Stanton »

As suggested above, you really need to start by confirming if you were actually suspended or not. I’d suggest going to the Ministry of Transportation and ordering a copy of your driving abstract. Your outstanding fines may not be an accurate reflection of your licence status, etc. It doesn’t really make sense that your suspension would have been suddenly lifted if you still had significant outstanding fines. Also, while I wouldn’t say it’s impossible, prosecutors do screen the charges that come before them. I find it very odd that the charging officer and the Crown would have proceeded with the charge unless your licence status showed as suspended.


Bobert
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Re: Plead guilty when not. Can I appeal?

Unread post by Bobert »

Paid the fines. Ordered a copy of transcripts. Spoke with a parralegal about the whole issue who advised me they highly doubt I would be not guilty of the first driving under suspension as they can't believe the officer would not have run my license nor would the prosecutor and judge accepted a guilty plea without a confirmation of the suspension so the first step looks to be to wait to see the transcripts. I will also order an abstract. If the Transcripts and abstract look as though I wasn't guilty I will update here as to the progress as help to anyone that may face this situation in the future.

Only thing I do know is I paid the fine today and confirmed there is no other fine holding my license in suspension. I do have 2 other small fines tied to my license in default but not suspending my license and a couple fines tied to my name but again not holding my license in suspension.


Stanton
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Re: Plead guilty when not. Can I appeal?

Unread post by Stanton »

I'd start with the abstract. A certified 10 year abstract is only $18 and will answer your question pretty quick. No sense spending hundreds of dollars on transcripts needlessly.


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highwaystar
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Re: Plead guilty when not. Can I appeal?

Unread post by highwaystar »

As has been stated already, I wouldn't waste time and money getting transcripts yet until you are absolutely certain the suspension you are talking about was NOT on your abstract (record) when you plead guilty. After all, if your guilty plea WAS proper, then you'll have virtually no likelihood of re-opening the case.

As for your questions whether they'll show you some leniency just because you are now paying your fine, the answer is a confident NO. You won't be rewarded for doing that which you are under legal obligation to do. I don't mean to be blunt (as I hate removing hope from people) but I also tell it like it is-----the reality is that you were caught driving without insurance (already got a big break by only getting the minimum $5K fine), didn't pay that fine but still decided to drive anyway, got caught driving, but again, didn't pay THAT fine either, and then got caught behind the wheel a 2nd time. That just shows that you have little or no regard for court orders.

So, the reality is that there is slim to no hope you'll get much of any reward. What they might do is show you some good faith by not seeking elevated penalties (which would undoubtedly occur). If you don't pay your fines before your court date, then don't be surprised if they put you on probation-----very rarely will they keep imposing more fines on a person who doesn't pay. Instead, they put you on probation (and make it a term of your order to have to pay your fines within a certain period). That way, if you don't comply, its a breach of probation (which is a criminal offence and carries potential jail).


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