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 meetings were originally designed for simple cases like forgetting your insurance 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 soon learned that they could bring in speeding tickets and convince people to plead guilty by;
- reducing the charge,
- reducing demerit points
- but still get a conviction
Drivers didn’t realize that the ticket still went on their insurance.
The court saved hours of court time and officers didn’t have to appear at court, justice was circumvented to save money time without regards what happened to drivers insurance rates.
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…
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 will 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 may offer 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.
Many times reduced charges or saving demerit points are meaningless as the insurance will still be affected…
Appearing Before the Judge
Once everyone has met the prosecutor, everyone must wait again to appear before the judge.
The prosecutor 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 affect 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
When the driver does not accept the prosecutors reduced charge, the case will be put over for trial and a court date will mailed many times months in the future.
Even if you plan on accepting a reduced charge later, it is best to accept the resolution on the trial date rather than the early resolution date from an insurance point of view.
On the trial dates, resolutions are usually still available.
Where the police officer fails to attend court the charge will usually be dismissed.
Once you have requested a first attendance date and you are looking to prolong the ticket coming to trial, you may at anytime appear at the court, and withdraw the first attendance request, and file for a trial date.
Different court houses and jurisdictions have different waiting times for speeding trials.
Some courts have very quick court dates, most are in the four (4) to six (6) months range, but court dates a year away are possible, saving any insurance increase from occurring for a year.
If you are fighting your speeding ticket and your court date is approaching, you may apply for an adjournment request to postpone your trial date, if you have a valid reason for doing so.
You may not, at anytime while dealing with the court, mislead or lie to the court, which would be a criminal offence.