I’m always amazed at the amount of poorly qualified or outright incorrect information on the web when I search for traffic enforcement related information. One popular topic that seems especially mistreated is disclosure of the Crown’s evidence prior to trial. The authors of the articles would have you believe that you should ask for everything, including the brand of ink in the officer’s pen, and when any of it is refused the ticket will automatically be dismissed.
If you are considering a ticket dispute, you may choose to write to the officer who issued the ticket and request disclosure. Do this at the same time that you enter your dispute so that there is plenty of time for the officer to comply. This way if you have any questions after receiving disclosure you will have time to ask for clarification before the trial date.
If you simply request disclosure, you should receive a synopsis of the evidence that the officer will be presenting during the trial. You may request specific disclosure for information about the officer’s qualifications, what kind of speed measuring instrument was used or for a copy of any evidence that will be presented, such as photos, videos or witness statements.
The court will support all reasonably justified requests. Photocopies of copyrighted material such as the radar operation manual will be refused, although you could expect to attend to the detachment and view a copy to make notes from. Copies of all tickets the officer issued that day and the outcome of any trials related to them, servicing records for the police vehicle, reports of all disciplinary actions against the officer or other such requests will likely not be upheld by the court.
With electronic tickets, the officer no longer makes handwritten notes. Rather than a photocopy, a print out of the notes could be requested.
You’ve requested disclosure, received nothing from the officer and your court date is either rapidly approaching or at hand. What should you do? There are two options open to you: send another request or apply for an adjournment at the commencement of your trial.
It is possible that your original request did not reach the officer and the reminder will produce what you need.
If disclosure has not arrived in reasonable time, or not at all and you are in court being asked to enter a plea you could decline to do so and request that the matter be adjourned. Ask that the justice direct the officer to provide disclosure and make the next appearance peremptory on the prosecution.
Another option is to ask the justice to adjourn and advise that you will be making an application to have your trial moved to provincial court in order to make application under the Charter to have it dismissed for lack of disclosure.
If you are considering the latter it would be wise to seek proper legal advice to prepare. The Canadian Bar Association’s Lawyer Referral Service will direct you to counsel that specializes in your matter and provide a free 30 minute consultation.
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