By Jordan W. Charness
Consider this common scenario: you know that the speed limit is 100 km/h, but everyone around you is driving at least 120, so not wishing to be left behind, you drive at 120 as well, or maybe just 119. Before you know it, you are singled out to be pulled over by a police officer and you are given a ticket for speeding.
You complain to the officer that it just wasn’t fair but he gives you the ticket anyway and suggests you tell it to a judge. And so the process begins.
It is actually a very long and complicated process that begins with you being handed a ticket which is simply a notice that you are being charged with committing an offence. The ticket tells you that you have the absolute right to either plead “guilty” or “not guilty” and to bring your case before a court of law.
Assuming that you decide to plead not guilty (because, in this case, everyone was doing it) you will begin the process that will take you all the way to a final judgment. Sending in your not guilty plea within the required period of time will mean that your plea will be officially entered in a file that will be opened especially for you.
Once that file is opened, it will be referred to a prosecutor and set for a trial date. Prior to that date you will have a right to demand and receive a copy of your file, which may include a police officer’s notes that did not come with your tickets, so that you can use to properly prepare your defence, (in this case, that “everyone was doing it”).
Your file, and hundreds of others like it, will eventually be sent up to your trial courtroom so that you and others like you may tell the judge what happened.