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How To Appeal Your Provincial Offences Act Conviction or Sentence in Toronto, Ontario.

Are you looking to hire a lawyer to appeal your Provincial Offences Act conviction or sentence in Toronto, Ontario or elsewhere in the Greater Toronto Area? This article is intended to provide general information about appealing your conviction or the sentence you received.

Follow this link for information about the criminal appeal process if you are looking to appeal your criminal conviction or overturn your criminal sentence. If you would like to speak to one of the appeal lawyers at Daniel Brown Law to get legal advice about appealing your conviction or sentence for a provincial offence, call (416) 297-7200 to schedule a consultation. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Appealing a Provincial Offences Act Case:

What Is a Provincial Offence?

Provincial offences are those offences created by the Government of Ontario to regulate the behaviour of individuals and businesses in the province. They include driving offences like stunt driving, driving while suspended and careless driving under the Highway Traffic Act, failing to comply with workplace safety standards under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, making a false claim for benefits under the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, or failing to clean up a pollutant under the Environmental Protection Act. These are not criminal offences – criminal offences are contained in the Criminal Code and other laws passed by the Federal Government.

While provincial offences are not criminal offences, you will still be “prosecuted” for a provincial offence and can go to trial, be found guilty, and be sentenced. You can be given a fine, probation, and, in some cases, jail time. Much like a criminal case, you can also appeal a conviction or sentence under the Provincial Offences Act.

What Is a Provincial Offence Appeal?

If you have been found guilty of a provincial offence, you may want to appeal. An appeal is not a new trial. At an appeal, your lawyer has to explain to a judge how a legal or factual mistake was made at your trial or demonstrate why your trial was unfair (i.e.the “grounds of appeal”). You can appeal your conviction, the sentence you received, or both.

What Happens If I Win My Appeal?

If you win an appeal from your conviction, the appeal judge might reverse the trial decision (i.e.you might be acquitted) or the appeal judge might order a new trial in your case. If you win an appeal from your sentence, the appeal judge can impose a lower sentence.

Can The Prosecutor Appeal a Provincial Offences Act Trial?

The prosecutor can also file an appeal if you were acquitted of a provincial offence or they can appeal the sentence you received. If this happens, you will be required to defend the appeal.  If the prosecutor wins the appeal, the appeal judge can enter a conviction or order a new trial (if the prosecutor appealed your acquittal), or impose a higher or different sentence (if the prosecutor appealed your sentence).

Who Judges A Provincial Offences Act Appeal?

Who judges an appeal depends on who judged your trial. If your trial was before a Justice of the Peace, wearing a green sash and referred to as “Your Worship”, your appeal will be heard by a judge of the Ontario Court of Justice. If your trial was before a judge, wearing a red sash and referred to as “Your Honour”, your appeal will be heard by a judge of the Superior Court of Justice.

Can I Avoid Serving My Jail Sentence If I File A Provincial Offence Appeal?

If you are sentenced to jail time, you can ask a judge to pause your jail sentence and release you on bail while you are waiting for your appeal to be heard. In order to get bail pending your appeal, your lawyer must file an application demonstrating that there is some merit to the grounds of your appeal and also convince the appeal judge that serving your sentence right away is not necessary in the public interest.

What if I Was Convicted When I Missed My Court Date?

If your prosecution started with a ticket and you were convicted without attending your hearing, you can ask the court to strike your conviction and order a new trial. This is not an appeal – it is an opportunity to reopen your trial proceedings. However, the court will only let you reopen your case if you can show you were unable to go to your first trial through no fault of your own or that you did not receive notice of your trial date or another step in the proceeding. You only have 15 days from when you learn of your conviction to apply to have your conviction struck.

Do I Have To Pay My Fine Before I Appeal?

In most cases, in order to start the appeal process, you will first need to pay your fine. If you are unable to pay your fine before starting the appeal process, you can ask a judge for permission to start the process without paying the fine. If the judge agrees, you may need to enter into a “recognizance” – an agreement in which you pledge a certain amount of money and promise to follow certain conditions – to ensure you appear for your appeal. If you do not appear for your appeal, you will have to pay the amount pledged in the recognizance.

How Do I Start a Provincial Offences Appeal?

The first step in any appeal is to tell the court and the prosecutor’s office that you are appealing. This must be done by filing a notice of appeal. A notice of appeal is a form that you submit to the court that tells the court that you want to appeal and what the grounds of appeal are in your case.

Is There A Time Limit To File An Appeal?

In order to preserve your right to appeal, you must file the notice of appeal no later than 30 days after the day you are sentenced.

Can You Still File An Appeal After The Appeal Deadline Date?

If you do not file your notice of appeal on time, you have to ask a judge for an extension of time to appeal. A judge may allow your appeal to continue if you have a good reason for delaying your appeal. In some cases, a person or business may be found guilty without realizing they even had a trial date. The circumstances of the delay and the amount of time that has passed between the deadline date and the day the appeal notice was filed will be considered by the judge before they agree to extend the appeal deadline.

What Are The Costs To File An Appeal?

As explained above, in most cases you need to pay your fine before you will be allowed to file your notice of appeal. If you are unable to pay your fine, you will need to ask the court’s permission to file your notice of appeal without first paying your fine.

In some cases, you will also need to order the “trial transcripts”. Transcripts are a record of everything that was said as part of your trial. Whether transcripts must be ordered in your appeal depends on the type of offence you were convicted of.

The side starting the appeal must order and pay for the transcripts.

Why Should I Hire An Appeal Lawyer To Help With My Appeal?

There are many things a lawyer can do to help you appeal your conviction or sentence for a provincial offence and increase your chances of success:

  • A lawyer can identify strong grounds of appeal.
  • A lawyer can prepare the documents to start the appeal process including filing a “notice of appeal” to preserve your right to bring an appeal of your conviction and/or sentence.
  • A lawyer can apply for you to be released from jail on bail while you wait for your appeal to be argued at your appeal hearing.
  • A lawyer can bring an application to suspend any court orders against you arising from your conviction like a driving licence suspension or other probation order.
  • A lawyer can represent you in your appeal at court, making the legal arguments on your behalf at the appeal hearing.

In most cases, a person will only be given one opportunity to appeal their case though there may be an opportunity to ask a higher appeal court to review the appeal judge’s decision in limited cases. It is therefore important to conduct your appeal properly the first time around. Having an experienced appeal lawyer assisting with filing documents with the court and arguing your appeal will almost certainly increase your chances for success.  Please call us at (416) 297-7200 for a consultation about appealing your conviction for a provincial offence or the sentence you received.

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