Q&A - Raising a Charter Issue in Traffic Court

Q&A ImageI have done fairly extensive on-line research on disputing tickets and, in particular, requesting a stay based on the Charter argument related to delay (seeing as we are in the 18 month range from date of offense to first appearance) and I have found a lot of interesting material related to how to do this (Charter argument) in other jurisdictions (like Ontario), such as the kinds of forms you need to file, the style of cause etc ... and such ... but I can find very little about this related to traffic disputes for BC, other than the references you provide on your DriveSmart BC forum for cases where such arguments were successfully made (BTW ... thank you for that ... it has been very helpful).  But that does not really help us newbies in trying to navigate the process from the beginning.

The Ministry of Justice website does not even refer to the right of citizens to file a Charter argument in Traffic Court (or any other jurisdiction for that matter) and makes no mention of the law or kinds of forms that need to be filed.  Also, there is nothing on their site related to requesting disclosure.  No mention of it, no references to forms and no mention of who you need to send such requests too.

It is like the BC government does not want citizens to know their legal rights in such matters.

Anyway ... I have gleaned from your site that disclosure requests in BC need to be sent directly to the officer involved and I have taken that step.  Thank you for that.

And while I acknowledge your advice about consulting a lawyer on the Constitutional matter, I will try to exhaust other remedies before I turn to that (I am just as capable of filling out a form as a para-legal and it would cost me a lot less to do so).  I see that most of the people that availed themselves of this remedy did so through self-representation, so it should be a relatively simple process.

That being said, one would think that the government would make information on such Charter challenges freely available, especially information on the kinds and style of form one needs to fill out and where to send it. They offer this service for all other civil (including family) and criminal matters.

Anyway, any further info you may find would be much appreciated.



Here is what I was able to learn by asking the Ministry of Justice for advice:

We do not have a guide with respect to the information you are seeking; however, we can provide you with the following general information.

If your violation ticket hearing is currently scheduled to go before a Judicial Justice of the Peace, you will have the opportunity to dispute the allegation.  However, because of Section 2.1 of the Provincial Court Act, a Judicial Justice of the Peace does not have jurisdiction to hear a Charter argument.  Any such argument needs instead to be made in court before a Provincial Court Judge.

If you wish to pursue a Charter argument, you need to make the required application related to the Charter, by attending the court registry where your hearing will take place.  There you can make arrangements for this matter to be scheduled before a Provincial Court Judge.  Upon receiving your application, a date to present your case and Charter argument will be set by the Judicial Case Manager responsible for scheduling for that location.

If you have a scheduled hearing date before a Judicial Justice of the Peace regarding your violation ticket allegation, it will remain as scheduled unless and until you have arranged a hearing date before a Provincial Court Judge.

You may wish to consult section 8 of the Constitutional Question Act which establishes certain requirements of a person who seeks to make a Charter argument in a Court proceeding.  If you require further procedural information in this regard you may wish to contact the Court Registry.  Please note that court registry staff can give you general court procedural information; however, they cannot give you legal advice.

Hopefully this is of some assistance.

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