Early Resolutions & First Attendance Meetings

Although the court clerk may offer for you a meeting with the prosecutor to “Avoid a Contested” trial, the benefit maybe to the court and not you…

First Attendance Meetings

Early Resolution or First Attendance are meetings held before a court date, to encourage the driver to plead guilty to a reduced charge. The meeting is held with a provincial prosecutor from the court.

Originally these meetings were designed for simple cases like forgetting your insurance slip or drivers licence.

Rather than tie up court space and the police officers time, the court arranged these meeting to resolve the issue. e.g. you brought in the insurance, showed it to the prosecutor and they dropped the charge.

The Court Wants You to Plead Guilty

The court learned that they could convince people to plead guilty by:
Speeding Tickets -Guilty Sign

  • reducing the charges,
  • reducing demerit points,
  • while still getting a conviction and fine for the charge

BUT: The court and prosecution office failed to advise the drivers of certain critical facts:

The court saved hours of court time and officers didn’t have to appear at court.

Justice was circumvented to save money and time, without regard to the affect of a conviction on the driving record and insurance rates.

Many times reduced charges or saving demerit points are meaningless as the insurance will still be affected…

Why You Don’t Want a First Attendance Meeting

Drivers who attend First Attendance or Early Resolution meetings must appear at the courthouse at a time designated by the court. In most jurisdictions if you fail to appear you’ll be convicted in your absence.

Plan to spend two (2) hours or more hours at the courthouse.

At the first attendance or early resolution meeting:

  • once you arrive at the court you’ll waiting in line to speak to the prosecutor
  • the prosecutor may offer to reduce the fine and or demerit points
  • the “deal” will ensure that you are convicted of something, that will go on your driving record
  • any conviction will affect insurance rates for three (3) years or more

Any resolution or deal that the prosecutor offers will still go on your driving record, the resolution may have no real benefit to the driver.

The insurance companies do not care about demerit points.  Convictions affect insurance not demerit points.

Court clerks are under direct orders to “steer” drivers into First Attendance or Early Resolution Meetings and may not be acting in your best interests…

Appearing Before the Judge

Once everyone has met the prosecutor, everyone must wait again to appear before the judge.

The prosecutor will lead everyone into the courtroom to wait for the judge to enter.  Once the court is convened the prosecutor calls each person to the front and tells the judge:

  • what you have agreed to do,
  • the judge will ask you if this is correct, and
  • you will be asked to enter a plea of guilty

Any chance to have the ticket dismissed completely either on a technicality (e.g. the officer doesn’t appear) or otherwise is gone.

Once the driver pleads guilty:

  • the insurance will be affected
  • any demerit points are applied forthwith
  • the ticket goes on the driving record for three (3) years
  • any suspension takes effect as soon as the MTO is notified

Many times reduced charges or saving demerit points are pointless resolutions as the insurance will still be affected.

Most drivers would be better off requesting a trial and having the chance of winning, than taking a worthless deal from the prosecution.

Make sure you understand all of the penalties for a speeding ticket including the hidden penalties before accepting any reduced charge.

Don’t Accept the Prosecutor’s Offer

If a driver declines the prosecutor’s offer to reduce the charge, the case is remanded to a “trial date”.

The trial date could be in a few weeks, several months in the future or a year away, depending upon the court and jurisdiction.  Courts for example in Toronto can be backlogged 6 to 12 months.

Having a trial date after your insurance renewal can save on your insurance, as until a conviction is registered, the insurance will be unaware of the conviction.

The trial date to resolve or even have a trial, is more favorable from an insurance standpoint. Many times options for resolution are usually still available on a trial date. Furthermore, if the police officer does not attend the court session, the charge is usually dismissed.

To manage your trial date effectively, consider the following steps:

  • Requested a First Attendance: If you initially sought a first appearance with the intention of delaying your trial, you have the flexibility to withdraw this request at the court and then apply for a trial date.
  • Understanding Wait Times: The waiting period for a trial can vary significantly between different courthouses and jurisdictions. Some may schedule trials within a few months, while others may extend up to a year, potentially deferring any insurance rate increases for that duration.
  • Postponing Your Trial: As your trial date approaches, if you have a valid reason, you can submit a request to adjourn or postpone your trial to a later date.

It’s crucial to conduct yourself with integrity throughout this process; misleading or lying to the court is a serious offence that can lead to criminal charges.

We always recommend that you seek legal advice about your speeding tickets, as court rules and procedures may change from time to time.