Your car was impounded for 7 days. You had to pay to get it back, and you got a Stunt Driving Charge compelling you to appear in an Ontario Provincial court about 6 weeks later. So now what can you expect?
The most important point to remember is “prepare”. You will need to prepare to make sure you make the best of your first court appearance, because, if this is your first time in Provincial Offences Court, you may be in for a bit of a surprise.
Court appearances are usually set for a morning or afternoon – most commonly a 9:00am or a 1:30pm appearance. If you have a 9am appearance, the first and most important thing to remember is get there early! Always assume there will be hordes of other people with the same or similar type charges that are also set to appear at that exact same time of 9:00am. This means you are in for a “first-come / first-serve” scenario. The earlier you are, the better chance you have to sign in first. Granted, if you get their too early, you will arrive to locked doors. Remember, this is a Provincial building, so it will open at the precise hours on the door.
Once through security, you will need to locate the courtroom of your appearance and find the prosecutor in order to check in with your matter. You will most likely encounter a very long lineup of other people waiting to check in as well. Be prepared, because even if you are first in line, Paralegals and Lawyers have priority in most courts. They will check in their list of clients with the prosecutor while you wait. This may take some time. In some instances, in a busy court, this will take a very long time.
At some point, after most people have checked in, the Justice of the Peace will enter the court, and court will officially begin. The prosecutor will start the proceedings, calling up defendants in order, starting with the defendants represented by Paralegals and Lawyers. If you do not have representation, you will have to wait silently in the court until you are called up by the prosecutor. Even if the court start time was 9:00am, we have seen defendants start getting called up as late as 10am, 11am or later. It is entirely dependant upon 4 factors:
- The amount of people in the court
- The amount of lawyers / Paralegals and their clients
- The time the Justice of the Peace arrives in court
- The order in which you checked in
Once you are called, you will be required to state your name, to the Justice of the Peace, and you are required to make a decision on how you would like to proceed. You have 3 options:
- Request a trial date, and plead “Not Guilty”
- Request an adjournment to review your disclosure (evidence)
- Plead guilty to the offence
If you select option 1, you will be assigned a date in the future for a trial. The risks of this option will be discussed in a later article. If you select option 2, you will be assigned a date ranging from 3-8 weeks to review, and come back and go through the entire procedure above one more time. You will come back on a day just like the day you are adjourning right now. If you select option 3, you will be sentenced by the Justice of the Peace according to the recommended penalty set out by the prosecutor.
Often times, you may be forced into option 2, because your disclosure or evidence is not yet available to the prosecutor. In this case, you will need a new date to come back, just to repeat everything above in order to get your disclosure.
You can watch the video below for more detailed information regarding your Stunt Driving charges and your court date.
When should I arrive at court for my Stunt Driving ticket?
Always arrive at least 1 hour - 30 minutes early. There is an administrative procedure where you will need to check in with the prosecutor, and many courts have long lineups. If your summons / ticket has a start time of 9am, then you should aim to arrive at 8-8:30am. Many courts are on a first come / first serve basis.
Am I going to get convicted of Stunt Driving penalties on my first court date?
You have rights and options. You have multiple options on your first appearance date. You can adjourn your date to seek legal advice. You can plead guilty to the penalties set out by the prosecutor, or you can choose to fight the charges at a trial date in the future. A legal representative can help you with this decision.