NOTE: Most COVID and protest tickets fall under Part 3 of the Provincial Offences Act. The information being shared here is from that perspective. If you have received a ticket for violating the emergency measures, whether it was violating the Re-opening Ontario act, or refusing the invasive PCR and/or quarantine upon return to Canada from abroad, you CAN represent yourself in court.
This guide is designed to provide an overview of the court process to help you understand the steps and what to expect as you move through the court system.
Things to consider when deciding to do self-representation: the charge you are facing, the complexity of the case, your understanding of the legal process and the issues, and the risk of a substantial fine, jail time or other penalty that would have significant personal impact (for example, driving demerit points, driver’s licence suspension). A good alternative to having a lawyer represent you in the courtroom is to hire a lawyer for legal consultation. This allows you to still take control of your case, while still accessing the knowledge of a legal professional.
Step 1 – Responding to a Ticket:
If you have received a ticket you must confirm with the court your intentions immediately (typically within 15 days) or you will be deemed at fault and will receive a bill for the full amount of the offence. To submit the ticket for trial, read the directions on the back of the ticket, call the courthouse and/or look up the provincial courthouse online to find the instructions.
NOTE: DO NOT SEND BACK YOUR TICKET WITH RESCIND! THE COURTS WILL NOT ACKNOWLEDGE THIS AND YOU WILL BE REQUIRED TO PAY THE TICKET IN FULL
Step 2 – Request Your Disclosure:
Whether you choose to self-represent or work with a lawyer you should request your disclosure yourself. That way you will have full access to the evidence being put forward to the court. Be aware that if you are thinking of getting a lawyer and you hire the lawyer before requesting disclosure, you may never get full access to your disclosure.
Or Step 2 – Responding to a Summons:
If you have received a summons you must follow the directions to attend the first hearing at the date and time stated on the summons. If that date and time do not work, you will need to contact the Prosecutions office, in advance of the date of the first hearing, to discuss a different hearing date and time and then you will need to file a motion. Failing to respond to a summons may result in a warrant for your arrest.
*A motion is to ask the court for something. If the court grants the request, the answer becomes enforceable. Ie. A new hearing date.
Step 3 – First appearance:
In your first appearance the crown will ask if you wish to negotiate a deal or if you intend to seek a trial. You will state your intentions and in this case (presumably) you will ask the crown to withdraw the charges and state the reasons you want the charges withdrawn.
Ie. If your right to free speech was violated by the agent of the state in violation of the Canadian Bill of Rights, 1960, then you will explain that and if you have it, let them know what case law you intend to use to support your position. Or if the charges were not properly identified on your ticker or in the disclosure
Step 4 - Judicial Pre-Trial:
In this meeting the JP will review the case to determine if there is enough substantial evidence to proceed. You will want to be fully prepared for the pre-trial as this is the opportunity for you to request the charges be dropped.
NOTE: IF YOU ENGAGED WITH LEGAL REPRESENTATION (to represent you in court) YOU CANNOT ATTEND THIS MEETING
Step 5 - Case Management Court:
If the JP has determined the your case will proceed to trial, this meeting is to schedule the trial date. In this meeting you will determine the length of the trial, who will be called as witnesses, etc. We recommend giving yourself more time, so the suggestion is 2-3 days. You can call witnesses to support you case.
Step 6 - Trial:
This is the final step where the JP and yourself will present your cases to the JP. You will want to be very well prepared for this meeting by having your position very clearly identified and written out. You will have an opportunity to present your case (your defence) and to call your witnesses, as well as cross examine the prosecutor's witness(es).
In all levels of court there are specific court procedures and court process that must followed. If the courts are remise or negligent in following these procedure this may lead to your charges being dismissed/withdrawn.
1. Pay attention to the time lapse between the date of the incident and the date the charges were laid; provincial is typically 30 days to NOTIFY the defendant of the charges and 12 months for criminal charges. If you have not been properly notified within the specified time period this can be a case for dismissal.
2. Once you have started court proceedings the courts have a finite window of time to complete the trial; for provincial offences that is 18 months and for criminal charges its 30 months. This is solidified in the case law, R v Jordan.
4. Service of Delivery for Provincial Offences in (Ontario) states that you are to be served in person; Provincial Offences Act:
Service (3) The offence notice or summons shall be served personally upon the person charged within thirty days after the alleged offence occurred. R.S.O. 1990, c. P.33, s. 3 (3).
5. You have the right to have your charges clearly identified promptly; if your charges are not clearly identified, this is a violation of your rights under section 2(c)(i) of the Canadian Bill of Rights:
Construction of law
2 Every law of Canada shall, unless it is expressly declared by an Act of the Parliament of Canada that it shall operate notwithstanding the Canadian Bill of Rights, be so construed and applied as not to abrogate, abridge or infringe or to authorize the abrogation, abridgment, or infringement of any of the rights or freedoms herein recognized and declared, and in particular, no law of Canada shall be construed or applied so as to
(a) authorize or effect the arbitrary detention, imprisonment or exile of any person;
(b) impose or authorize the imposition of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment;
(c) deprive a person who has been arrested or detained
(i) of the right to be informed promptly of the reason for his arrest or detention,
(ii) of the right to retain and instruct counsel without delay, or
(iii) of the remedy by way of habeas corpus for the determination of the validity of his detention and for his release if the detention is not lawful;
When you are in a courtroom, whether online or in person, there are basic rules to follow. These rules really are common sense, however, it's easy for forget the formalities when doing Zoom.
Here are some pointers to act like a pro in the courtroom:
1. BE PREPARED! Study you files and write out your defence well in advance and practice if you need to. You want to feel confident during the proceedings. Reading a script is OK and you will look professional by being able to speak fluidly.
2. Be prepared to be on video, with others in the room so be presentable.
3. Have a pen and paper with you so you can take notes and address points when it's appropriate for your to speak.
4. Avoid interrupting others, the pen and paper will help this impulse as you can write down what you want to address and can do so when it's appropriate.
5. DO NOT LIVE the court proceedings, this can land you with a contempt charge!
6. If you would like to speak, ask "May I address the court", then say what you need to say and be polite and professional.
7. Avoid interrupting, being rude to others, shouting... show respect and get respect.
Use this script if you have received a ticket for refusing the Quarantine Orders when returning back to Canada.
Use this script if you have received a ticket for protesting anywhere in Canada.
Case law to support your right to protest:
Supreme Court of Canada on the powers of police officers under the common law ancillary powers doctrine. The Court unanimously held that police officers did not have the authority to arrest someone engaging in lawful conduct to prevent a breach of peace by others.
Ban on 'loud' protester from town property overturned as unconstitutional. Ruled that “The area in front of a Town Hall is a place where free expression not only has traditionally occurred, but can be expected to occur in a free and democratic society,” Miller said. “The literal town square is paradigmatically the place for expression of public dissent.”
Use this script if you where charged for violating the Reopening Ontario Act during a shutdown.