Speeding Ticket Trials

Speeding ticket trials are about technicalities, rules of evidence and cross-examining witnesses before a judge.

Trials for Speeding Tickets

During a trial for speeding, the prosecutor guides the police officer through explaining how they caught the driver speeding to the court.

Their job is to bring out the all the facts of the offence for the Justice (Justice of the Peace) to hear.

The prosecution has to prove to the court all of the essential elements of the charge, to prove the driver guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

Evidence to Convict for Speeding

What the prosecution has to prove in court:

  • date & place of the offence
  • speed limit for the area
  • speed is posted or un-posted
  • identify of the driver of the vehicle
  • driver was operating a motor vehicle
  • driver exceeded the speed limit
  • jurisdiction of the offence e.g. municipality
  • how the officer measured the speed
  • Certificate of Offence (ticket) was properly filed with the court

The Justice of the Peace (JP) may only convict the driver of speeding where they are satisfied to themselves, beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused (called a defendant in traffic court) committed the offence.

Where the justice has a doubt, the justice should dismiss the charge.

Police Officer’s Evidence

Using the items above is part of the essential elements list that the prosecution has to prove. Most trial advocates will be listening for these items and checking them off as the trial proceeds.

The police officer must prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt to the judge. Otherwise the Crown is said to have failed to establish a prima facie case.

Once the officer has given their evidence, and the prosecution has closed their case the defence can cross-examine the police officer.

The prosecution must prove the case beyond any reasonable doubt before a judge may convict an accused person.

Cross-Examination in Speeding Trials

Once the police officer has given their evidence and the prosecutor has asked any questions the defendant is allowed to question the officer.

The questions to the officer must be relevant to the charge before the court.

The questions asked should be to:

  • clarify any issue before the court
  • to put doubt into the evidence presented by the court
  • create doubt into the credibility of the officers evidence

In Canadian law the accused does not have to prove that they are not guilty in the first instance.

Where the defence has created or the judge has any doubt as to the evidence before the court or the credibility of a witness the judge may dismissed the charge.

The prosecution has to prove the case to the judge beyond a reasonable doubt.

Summations in Speeding Trials

After the prosecution has closed their case and the cross-examination is complete the defence can make a summation to the judge.

Should the evidence be lacking, the defendant can make a motion of non-suit.

A motion of non-suit is advising the court that the prosecution has not made out a case and that the charge should be dropped.

For example,

  • the officer forgot to testify what the speed limit was,
  • during the evidence in chief, there was mention of a motor vehicle being used
  • the officer fails to say what jurisdiction the offence occurred in

The Justice would then give a ruling on whether or not a case has been made out.

Should the Justice agree, the charge would be dismissed.

Where the Justice believes that the prosecution has made out a prima facie case, then they would give the defence an opportunity to give evidence.

Final Submissions

Once the witnesses have testified the prosecution and defence are given the opportunity to make final summations about the charge.

Each party may make a final statement to the court and submit to the court case law in support of a relevant aspect of the case.

Case law is court transcripts that have gone to an appeal court where a ruling has been made by a provincial court judge or higher.

As traffic courts are presided over by Justices of the Peace (JP’s), the JPs are bound to listen and apply the rulings of higher courts in regards to legal proceedings.

Court Rulings

At the end of the trial and after all submission have be listened to the judge will make a ruling as to guilty or not guilty.

Where the judge makes a ruling of not guilty, that is the end of the matter. There is no conviction, no fine or demerit points, and the defendant is free to leave the court.

Where the judge finds the defendant guilty, the judge will ask the prosecutor if they have any submissions to the penalty that should be imposed.

In speeding trials usually the judge will give a fine as stated in the fines for speeding.

These penalties are set by the Chief Justice of Ontario and are the “set fines” for speeding.  The prosecution can make a suggestion to the court to increase or lower the penalty but the judge is not bound to the suggestion.

The defendant will also be given the opportunity to make submissions as to penalty.

The defendant may tell the court why they should receive a penalty less than the amount prescribed by statue, including:

  • any financial information
  • family issues, e.g. not working, or
    • takes care of disabled person
  • any hardships that may be a factor in the ability to pay a fine