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Tickets and fines are handled by municipally-run courts, for charges laid under the Provincial Offence Act. Common offences include, but are not limited to: Excessive noise, Speeding, Driving without a permit, Disobeying traffic signs, Parking infractions, Not having proof of insurance, Public intoxication, Trespassing.
There are three categories of offences, each with their own proof requirements:
Absolute liability: In “absolute liability” offences, the prosecutor is only required to prove that you committed the act with which you are charged. Intent to commit the prohibited act is not part of the essential elements of an absolute liability offence, and the prosecutor does not have to prove any mental element on your part. Generally, you will be found guilty if the justice of the peace is satisfied about this beyond a reasonable doubt. Parking and speeding are examples of absolute liability offences.
Strict liability: In “strict liability” offences, the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the act with which you are charged. Like in absolute liability offences, the prosecutor does not have to prove any mental element. However, unlike in absolute liability offences, you may raise a defence by proving on a balance of probabilities that you took all reasonable steps to avoid the particular act or that you reasonably believed in a mistaken set of facts which, if true, would render the act innocent. Most provincial offences are strict liability offences.
Mens rea offences: “Mens rea” refers to a “guilty mind”. In mens rea offences the prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the act with which you are charged and that you had a guilty mind. A mens rea offence usually contains the words “wilfully,” “with intent,” “knowingly,” or “intentionally” in the law creating the offence. It is unusual for a provincial offence to be a mens rea offence. Charges under the Criminal Code are examples of mens rea offences. An example of a provincial mens rea offence is having in your possession a false or invalid insurance card that you know or ought to know is false or invalid contrary to s. 13.1(a) of the Compulsory Automobile Insurance Act.
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