City: Mississauga, ON
Our Client: Mr. L.
Complainant: Peel Regional Police Service & Civilian
Charge(s): Careless Driving
Paralegal: Mark W. Cardy
Background: Mr. L. was in his vehicle driving towards Lakeshore Avenue while he was running errands. As he entered the ramp to merge onto the QEW, there was a blue-coloured Subaru driving erratically. The vehicle cut Mr. L. off, nearly causing an accident. As the two vehicles merged onto the QEW, Mr. L. grew concerned for other drivers and attempted to take the licence plate number of the vehicle down to report it. It was at this point that the driver of the blue Subaru began throwing items of trash out of the car in an attempt to hit Mr. L.’s vehicle. Mr. L. recorded the licence plate and disengaged by turning his signal on and merging into the lane to his right. Without a signal, the blue Subaru abruptly merged to the right as well – striking Mr. L.’s front-left bumper, causing him to hit his brakes. However, as Mr. L. hit his breaks, a transport truck rear ended his vehicle, causing a minor accident. The blue Subaru took off. The police charged Mr. L. with careless driving as a result of the accident that they could see. The Peel police did investigate the information concerning the blue Subaru but it did not yield any results.
Goal: Mr. L. was innocent and needed assistance in proving his innocence. We sought a dismissal at trial as the prosecution would have a difficult time proving the case beyond a reasonable doubt as a result of what the evidence contained (or lack thereof).
Strategy: While it can be detrimental to a court case for drivers charged with a traffic ticket to provide a statement to the officer at the roadside, in this case Mr. L. provided his statement about the blue Subaru being at fault for the accident. This alone may have been able to prove Mr. L.’s innocence as there was noticeable damage to the front-left bumper of his vehicle which could raise doubt, however, the statement provided to the officer from the chief witness for the prosecution also mentioned the blue Subaru was present and could have caused the accident. What sealed the coffin for the prosecution’s case was that the chief witness also indicated in his statement that he “wasn’t sure what he actually saw.” Mr. Cardy sought to exploit the witness’ statement, taken when it was fresh and vivid in his mind, and cross reference it to what the client may testify to at trial as it was many months after the incident took place. People’s memory fades over time. If the stories didn’t line up, the defence would have a great case.
Verdict: While this matter was marked for trial, Mr. Cardy approached the prosecutor before the trial and asked if they would consider withdrawing the case against Mr. L. as Mr. Cardy believed there was no reasonable prospect for conviction. The prosecutor met with the charging officer, who did not witness the actual event, and the truck driver who had witnessed the event. Shortly before the trial began, the prosecution withdrew the charges again Mr. L. There was no reasonable prospect of conviction as the evidence against Mr. L. was too unclear to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.