Editor: This letter deals with a trial that was heard by a judicial justice in Abbotsford provincial court, resulting from a violation traffic ticket issued in Langley.
Any person who receives a ticket for an alleged offence has the right under the Charter to be informed of the specific offence and the right to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial Court of Justice.
In this case, it is questionable if the accused at trial was afforded these rights.
The defence was that the violation ticket did not disclose a specific offence and could have been any one of four separate offences.
During the arraignment the judicial justice read the charge as disobey a traffic sign, and took a plea of not guilty, then read and proceeded with four separate charges in violation of the Offence Act.
This created a mistrial, and the justice must have known that charges are laid by the police on reasonable and probable grounds.
The only option was to seek an amendment to the invalid information or dismiss the charge. The justice must also have known that the accused could not possibly have committed four separate offences against one traffic sign and all at the same time.
After the arraignment, I was granted permission by the court to assist the accused, who is my granddaughter and a juvenile.
The accused went through the entire trial not knowing the offence she was alleged to have committed.
In her summation, the justice found the accused guilty, but failed to identify a specific charge.
The accused was then sentenced without being convicted of a valid offence.
The subsequent conviction order which was issued by the justice under the authority of the Offence Act must clearly state the specific charge.
However, the conviction order was clearly invalid as it stated: Did disobey a traffic sign or traffic signal, which refers to two completely different sections of the Motor Vehicle Act.
Application was made to the court registrar in Abbotsford to have the conviction order reissued.
But the registrar advised that the justice refused to amend or reissue the conviction order. This was a difficult task as there was no valid conviction.
The accused was sentenced to pay a fine of $121, with two driver penalty points on the basis of an invalid conviction.
I consulted a trial lawyer and he confirmed that the violation ticket information did not disclose a valid offence.
He advised that he could pursue an appeal to the Supreme Court in Chilliwack, but the cost would be $3,000.
Any person who receives a ticket and has a valid defence, cannot be assured that justice will prevail. It appears that the only option to obtain justice may be through appeal to higher court.
But the price of justice can be expensive.