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Can I be charged months after I’ve been in an accident?
“Your Questions Answered” is one of our popular series where we answer any questions the public have regarding traffic tickets. In this week’s post, we will be looking at whether you can be charged with a traffic ticket after an accident or alleged infraction has been occurred.
I got in an accident over 2 months ago. The police arrived but they let me leave after giving them a statement. I never got a ticket or anything like that, but my friend tells me I can still be charged even though it’s been months. Is that true?
This is a great question! To the surprise of many people, an officer does not have to charge you or serve you with a ticket at the time of the infraction (when you committed the alleged offence). An officer has quite the flexibility when it comes to the time they must serve a defendant with a charge. They are permitted with this flexibility so that they may further investigate a collision or offence in order to gather the proper evidence needed for a charge. Sometimes, it may be waiting for additional witness statements to arrive from a driver that might have left the scene of a collision prior to police arrival.
The Provincial Offences Act (POA) governs how much time an officer has before they must charge you with an offence. It is also different depending on what type of ticket you receive. In Ontario, you could receive an offence under Part I of the Provincial Offences Act, or a more serious charge under Part III of the Provincial Offences Act.
Part I Provincial Offences Act
If you are charged under Part I of the POA, the officer must charge you within 30 days of the offence. Part 1 charges are commonly less serious, and typically can be paid out of court by paying a monetary penalty.
Service of Part I
(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)
Part III Provincial Offences Act
If you are charged under Part III of the POA, the officer has up 6 months to “commence” the charge. This is different than the requirement for a Part I offence where the officer has a deadline to “serve” the ticket within 30 days. This means that if you were in an accident in the summer, you could potentially receive a visit from the police in the winter, pressing charges and requiring your attendance at court.
Part III charges are commonly more serious, they require your presence at court (or your representative) because they can not be paid out of court. They typically carry harsher penalties as well, such as a licence suspension or even imprisonment in some cases.
Limitation Period Part III
76 (1) A proceeding shall not be commenced after the expiration of any limitation period prescribed by or under any Act for the offence or, where no limitation period is prescribed, after six months after the date on which the offence was, or is alleged to have been, committed.
What to do if you are charged or think you may be charged in the future?
If you are charged by the police, it is important to immediately seek out the information that you will need to make important legal decisions. Being unaware of the law or the court process can result in legal missteps that can result in a conviction and penalties that will impact your life for years to come. Obtaining legal representation puts a licensed, knowledgeable, and experienced paralegal in the courtroom on your behalf to protect your interests in reducing or eliminating the consequences of a possible conviction. If you have been charged by the police, our team is here to help you. OTD Ticket Defenders Legal Services provides a no-cost, no-commitment initial consultation to assist you. Our friendly staff can be reached via the toll-free number 1-844-647-6869, by email at email@example.com, or by text at 226-240-2480. You can also request a consultation online and one of our staff will contact you directly to assist you.