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I would like to preface by stating this will be my first time in court, and I am looking to get some clarification about proceedings.

Situation (my side of events): Got into a little "fail to yield onto a roadway" accident coming onto a roadway. Driver is young with little experience.

Minor damage to victims car (a little bit to mine) and no injuries occurred. The police got involved and took other driver's side of story, refusing to look at my evidence. I have reason to suspect that the police officer and driver are friends. Additionally, there was a witness (shop owner) that made a statement after speaking to the other's drivers friends for a little while.

My questions: I would like to fight this case in court, defending myself. My goal is to prove bias in the police officers interpretation of events (due to their existing friendship) and discredit the witness as well as to show that the defendant is a novice driver with minimal experience on the roads (perhaps was even distracted). Assuming I can do all of these things, is it enough to defend my case, or does more need to be done? What are some things I should watch out for?

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  • 19
    You really need to see a lawyer.
    – Rock Ape
    Jun 11 at 7:52
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    Why so? I'm sure you are right, but if theres a reason you think this based on my question, it would be helpful for me to understand why.
    – user38580
    Jun 11 at 7:53
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    Who's the defendant? Your opening sentences to paragraphs 3 and 4 are contradictory.
    – Rock Ape
    Jun 11 at 8:44
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    Why is there even a court case? Are you guys uninsured? Or does it work differently in Canada than in the US?
    – Patrick87
    Jun 11 at 12:23
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    Did you fail to yield? Or did the inexperienced driver fail to yield? What exactly are you trying to defend yourself from? Jun 11 at 16:39
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Let's be quite brutal here.

Inexperienced driver doesn't mean the driver made a mistake. Lots of friends in the car doesn't mean they interferred with his driving. Loud music in the car is totally legal. "Perhaps was distracted" - "perhaps" you were distracted by looking at the passengers of this car instead of yielding?

It seems that you drove without due attention. You noticed at the last moment that you had to yield. "Yielding" isn't just stopping right at the last second, you have to drive in a way that it is visible for others that you are going to yield, and you didn't. The other driver was 100% correct to assume that you wouldn't yield.

Then you come up with an accusation that a police officer was biased. That's a very, very strong accusation. It's impossible for you to prove. It's the kind of accusation that will cause the judge to believe that you can't accept your own faults, and that you need the maximum possible fine to make you realise your mistakes.

That's why you need a lawyer. A lawyer will either make sure that you only say things in court that actually help your case. Or will advise you not to fight this in court at all, if that is better for you. If you go to court on your own, you'll only get yourself into trouble. And if there was bias by a police officer, and a witness lying, and a driver driving without attention, then a lawyer with experience in these things might be able to prove that it court, although that would be a very tough call, but you on your own don't have a chance in hell.

You say "the shop owner lied". The shop owner says "no, I didn't". So what's your next step? You don't know. Your lawyer knows. That's why you need a lawyer.

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    You are right. Thank you for bringing these valid points up.
    – user38580
    Jun 11 at 9:15
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What are some things I should watch out for?

Witnesses who can provide relevant, admissible evidence are key - mere assertions are not enough. As it knowing the court rules, practice directions and which forms to use (here are Alberta's for example).

A driver's experience (or lack of it) is not always relevant in these situations - one needs evidence to show what they did/didn't do at the time in order to prove a case. The same applies for allegations of perverting the course of justice and police corruption - and I suspect that any such evidence will be challenged robustly by the other side under witness cross-examination.

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Minor traffic accidents are rarely handled at the depth of a major criminal investigation; the attending officer will make a quick determination of who should have yielded but didn't, assign them as "driver 1" (even jaywalkers can be labeled "driver 1") and write the ticket, done and dusted.

If the goal is to reduce your fine or (probably more important) demerit points, showing up apologetic and respectful is likely to bear better fruit than arguing fine points or blaming the victim or casting aspersions on the officer's impartiality (and being supportive of a new driver who's the victim of someone's negligence is hardly evidence of prior bias).

And if you try that scattershot, you're very likely to shoot yourself in the foot. A major value in good legal advice is helping you not to ruin your own case. For that reason alone, talk to at least a traffic-court service before you jump into this.

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  • Since you mention "demerit points". Is it fair to assume you're in Ontario? The OP might have made another mistake which is to tag this question by country rather than province. Traffic laws tend to be provincial (or municipal for things like parking tickets) rather than federal. Is there anything traffic-related for which federal police would get involved? Jun 11 at 20:57
  • @NikeDattani All provinces have a point-system for drivers, most of them using the term "demerit points". That being said, traffic law is indeed provincial other than in rare cases (national park, intl bridges etc.) and the court will rule based on the law of the province where the accident occurred, but most rules are substantially similar.
    – xngtng
    Jun 11 at 21:32
  • @xngtng So I was (or might have been) correct that the question is improperly tagged. Jun 11 at 21:33
  • @NikeDattani Yes, a provincial tag would be helpful. But the basic procedures do not differ much except in Quebec. As an aside, Canadian police officers do not usually observe strict federal-provincial jurisdictional boundaries like the US. RCMP is the local police agency in all provinces except Ontario and Quebec. In addition Ontario recognizes RCMP as peace officers for the purpose of highway regulations (but they don't patrol the streets). Prosecutions (for all provincial offences and most Criminal Code offences) are handled by provinces regardless of who issued the ticket.
    – xngtng
    Jun 11 at 21:54

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