Most drivers in Ontario will at some point during their lifetime find themselves charged under the Highway Traffic Act or Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act. Whether through a purposeful act that has broken the law, environmental factors beyond their control, or a momentary inattention, hundreds of people just like yourself find themselves stopped and charged by the police every day. Once a police officer has charged with an offence you will have a number of important decisions to make. The repercussions of those decisions can result in consequences that can last from years, to a lifetime.
Some people attempt to save money and represent themselves at court, fearing that hiring legal representative may result in large legal costs. Legal costs are certainly an important factor in making this decision, but so too are the costs of a conviction in penalties such as court issued fines, increased insurance rates, loss of driver’s license, or jail. A licensed paralegal, after reviewing your case, can advise you what range of penalties can occur should you be convicted as well as what you can expect to pay for the legal work to protect your interests. Generally the cost of hiring a paralegal will be outweighed by the benefits of having had your interests protected at court.
It has been common over the years to have a defendant attend my office after they have been convicted through an inadvertent administrative misstep while representing themselves. Generally, most of these errors can be avoided through the proper file management that comes with having hired an administrative and paralegal team to act on your behalf. From ensuring that your matter is properly filed with the court, through to regular contact with the court clerks, hiring a licensed paralegal will help ensure that your matter proceeds smoothly through the court system with little to no effort on your behalf.
It is common for defendants to experience stress or emotional upset at having been charged by the police and struggling with the potentially life-altering consequences should they be convicted. This personal emotional investment can result in rash or not properly thought out actions at court. An experienced paralegal has been in the courtroom countless times and can respond on your behalf in a rational and knowledgeable manner. They can also provide an objective perspective of the legal merits of your defence in helping to decide what course of action will best protect your interests.
An experienced paralegal can often resolve a defendant’s charges without need for the defendant to ever set foot in a courthouse thereby avoiding costly lost days of work or the stress of appearing before the court to provide testimony. By obtaining and reviewing a disclosure of the Prosecutor’s evidence, some charges may simply be withdrawn through pre-trial discussions with the Prosecutor’s Office. Where charges cannot be withdrawn, they can often times be negotiated to lesser offences or to reduced court penalties such as fines, suspension of license, or jail.
Inevitably, there will be some matters that will not be resolvable through the early resolution meeting process. Many defendants simply believe that because they are a good person, only broke the law for a short period of time, or that due to having some personal explanation regarding their actions that the court will rule in their favour at the end of a trial. Unfortunately, such arguments are not arguments based on the law. It is unfortunate to watch readily defensible cases go to conviction in the court room due to a self-represented defendant being unfamiliar with the law and court process.
An experienced paralegal will be familiar with court procedure, the case law relevant to the matter being argued, as well as the police officer(s), Prosecutor, and Justice of the Peace involved in your trial. There is a careful decision that must be navigated in whether or not having you testify before the court will net more benefit for the defence, or whether under cross examination your testimony will assist the Prosecutor in having the court rule against you. Seemingly small and insignificant statements before the court can be the difference between a charge being dismissed without penalty, or a conviction being registered against you.
The end goal of any legal action you undertake is to get the best possible result given the situation within which you find yourself. With the fair, knowledgeable, and objective assistance of a paralegal working on your behalf, the seemingly intimidating nature of the court can become a relatively simple and stress free avenue to ensuring your ability to drive and remain insurable remains intact. At a bare minimum, reviewing your case with a paralegal before deciding whether to simply plead guilty or not to the offence will not cost you any money and will give you the peace of mind that you are making the best possible choice.