The Fight the Fines campaign is a pro bono legal service organized and supported by The Democracy Fund, a charitable non-profit legal clinic supported solely by donations. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and provincial restrictions in Ontario came a new legal landscape with thousands of people and businesses being charged for various reasons under various statutes– both provincial and federal. Fight the Fines was created in 2021 to support those unable to afford or find legal representation for their matters. They vary from basic Trespass To Property Tickets with a $65 fine to quasi-criminal corporate charges with fines in the millions.
With over 2,000 people in need, TDF enlisted Jenna Little to spearhead their campaign, organize the clients and defense in Ontario, and fight the fines. She couldn’t do this alone!
Jenna Little, MBA graduated from Humber College with a diploma in Court & Tribunal Agents in 2004. She then completed a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at York University, and then a Maser of Business Administration at the Unversity of Fredericton in 2018. That same year, she also completed the Osgoode Certificate in Provincial Offences Practice. She has extensive experience defending provincial offences and case management. She is passionate about arguing Charter applications, crafting appeals, legal research and writing, and making novel arguments. She is based out of Pickering, Ontario.
Kaitlyn completed her Honours Bachelor of Arts at the University of Toronto, studying Religion, Society and Ethics, and graduated with distinction in 2010. She went on to pursue paralegal studies, graduated with high honours and was licensed as a paralegal in 2013. She has worked mainly in criminal law and provincial offences throughout her career. Kaitlyn is passionate about issues arising in the intersection of mental health, ethics and the law. She joined the Fight the Fines team intially to assist with out-of-province matters in 2021 and now works solely on cases in Ontario; she based out of Etobicoke, Ontario.
Mark graduated from the University of Guelph in 2010 with a major in Criminal Justice and Public Policy. He Completed his Paralegal Studies diploma from Sir Stanford Flemming College in 2014. His focus is trial and Charter advocacy with an emphasis on defending serious, quasi-criminal matters. He has also represented clients in matters concerning minor, summary conviction, criminal charges laid under the Criminal Code of Canada. He is based out of Napanee, Ontario.
Kristen obtained a paralegal diploma from St. Clair College in 2016. Her primary focus was initially on employment law related matters as well as the defence of provincial offence charges involving a wide variety of violations including traffic tickets, commercial vehicle violations, snowmobile operation charges, among other issues. She joined the team in 2022 and is based out of Windsor, Ontario
Sandra completed her honours diploma in Paralegal Studies at Westervelt College in 2016. She has worked in the provincial offences scope since graduating and has become a general practitioner in recent years. She joined the team in 2022 and is based out of Brantford, Ontario.
Choosing the best paralegal for your case can be difficult. With so many paralegals to choose from, how do you know who to pick? The best way to find the right paralegal is by knowing what type of case you have and what your needs are. There are a few things you should consider when looking for a paralegal:
Scope: What kind of legal issue are you having? Paralegals have scopes, so you will want to hire one who specializes in the area you need help in, such as Provincial Offences or Small Claims. Hiring a “jack of all trades” will not give you the professional expertise you really need if you have a particularly serious or complex matter. Here are Lighthouse Legal Services, we specialize in only one scope: quasi-criminal and regulatory offences, also known as Provincial Offences. That’s it! There’s no need for us to muddy the waters with any other kind of law– we want to master this scope, period.
Experience: How long has the paralegal been practicing? Has he or she dealt with cases similar to yours before? Have they run many trials and do they know all the players in your specific court? You want someone who has been around for a long time, knows the ins and outs of each court (they are all unique!), and has the experience to support the type of fight and passion you want from a representative.
Cost: How much will your case cost? Are there any extra fees that might be added on during the process? Are you willing to pay more for a paralegal with more experience? When dealing with an accident matter, or something that is intense with serious consequences for you, going the “cost effective” route may not be your best option, because you could be sacrificing service, experience, and attention, but you need to ensure your fees are affordable at the same time.
Big firm vs. small firm (or sole practitioner): Here are Lighthouse Legal Services, we’ve worked with the “big firms”. We know how they operate and how your file will be treated. If you want a boutique experience, including specialized attention to your file by one or two people max, and personalized communication, you will probably want to go for a smaller firm or sole practitioner. Sole practitioners and smaller firms are also more available to you: they can text you when you would like, speak to you on the phone when they aren’t in court and on weekends when you aren’t at work, and can generally give you more attention than big firms. You aren’t a case number with Lighthouse Legal Services– you are a valued client!
Your initial interaction: How do you feel when you speak with this person? Do you have a good rapport and do you feel comfortable? Were they able to make you feel calmer about your situation? Were they able to give you an idea of what to expect out of your case, and the pros and cons of your choices at first? How did that make you feel? Did you feel comfortable asking questions and for clarification, if needed? Do you feel you are able to contact them without feeling like you are “bugging” them (we hope you never feel this way with us!)? Did you feel pressure to retain them right away?
We hope that these tips are helpful when thinking about which paralegal to retain. There are many firms and practitioners out there, so you need to choose the one that is right for you. If you decide that firm is Lighthouse Legal Services, great!
If you have received a traffic ticket, chances are you are doing your research on how to try and defend yourself from the charge(s). So what factors should you consider when hiring legal representation?
Do some research
Find out if the legal service provider is qualified & specializes in defending the charge(s) you are facing.
Know who will act for you
Ask to speak directly with the Court Agent who will be acting for you, when you contact the firm you are considering hiring. You need to know who is going to be acting for you in Court! You need to know what their qualifications are and what actual experience they have!
It is always best to insist on speaking directly with the actual person who will be defending your charge(s) in Court.
Keep in mind that some Companies have Sales staff working in their offices who may answer the telephones and will accept you as a Client. But, they have never actually been in Court themselves defending a client. They may not be the person who will stand up and defend you in Court. Their role is administrative only.
You should understand fully what services the firm will be providing to you and what steps you’re Representative will be undertaking on your behalf, in order to effectively fight your traffic ticket(s) for you.
Check Google Reviews. Look for authentic testimonials.
In order to properly gauge the satisfaction level of the customer experience with each legal firm that you speak with. You can also ask your family, co-workers & friends who’ve used the services of a specific Traffic Ticket firm or representative previously. Take the time to check out who you feel will work hard to defend you.
Lighthouse is proud of its reputation. We value all of the heartfelt Thank You’s & the many positive testimonials we receive.
It can be stressful when you receive a Traffic Ticket. At Lighthouse we prepare thoroughly and always aim to win for you. We continuously strive to improve our services and our Clients customer service experience(s).
Trust your choice
Hiring a legal representative, is like choosing a new family doctor. You should feel comfortable, and trust your legal representative. A licensed lawyer or paralegal owes you a fiduciary duty, so make sure you feel comfortable with the legal firm and the representative you choose.
If you are looking for a Competent, Capable and Confidential personalized service you are invited to Call “Lighthouse Legal Services” at 647-528-5422
When hiring a legal service provider, keep in mind that your cost will depend on what type of service you are seeking or need, as the prices will vary.
For instance if you need to hire a representative to handle the filing of a ticket; obtaining disclosure and appearing in court on your behalf, perhaps it’s on a speeding charge, then the cost for that service alone , would be different than the cost to also conduct a Trial.
Running a Trial results in higher costs because the legal services firm you choose (such as Lighthouse) will need to also devote greater resources from start to finish to thoroughly research & vigorously defend your case.
Also some firms may offer Flat fixed fees (one single price). Or they may offer a retainer fee (you pay them for each billable hour). This is where the fee for legal services can ultimately increase beyond your initial down payment (retainer deposit) depending on the amount of work undertaken and the number of hours that the firm works on your behalf.
At Lighthouse we always take the time upfront, to explain to our Clients their options. We also provide clients with a clear explanation as to how much a service will cost them, before our Clients need to make decision.
We value the trust our Clients place in us when they retain our services. You can count on us to always strive to ensure that our Clients get the best value for any fees they pay for us to represent them.
The Lighthouse Legal Services Difference:
Our firm handles all types of Ticket Defences and Appeals. However, we specialize primarily in Careless Driving accident defence. Which is a very serious charge. Brian Morris is expert in representing clients in the Ontario Traffic Courts and has a proven track record in fighting the charge of Careless Driving at Trial
If you are interested in learning more about how “Lighthouse” can help you achieve the very best results possible with any of your Traffic Ticket(s) … Contact us now for a FREE initial consultation.
Our system of Justice in Ontario stems from the British common law system of Stare Decisis (Latin for previously decided cases). Not many people enjoy reading case law. But having the right case law to reference in your defence, could prove to be the determining and deciding factor.
Why is case law important?
Previously decided cases can “bind” lower courts to follow their previous decisions. So if you were facing a careless driving charge in Newmarket, Ontario, or in any other Court, you or your representative may want to research case law decisions focused on careless driving.
These previously decided case may or may not help you with your defence. But it’s important to research and review them for similarities.
Plus, there are case law decisions, that cover disclosure, charter right violations, officer’s evidence, hearsay evidence, and the list goes on. So case law can certainly assist with preparing a strong defence, if the case law is properly researched, interpreted and applied.
Having a representative with education in law, or a Paralegal program is an asset, as they will have been taken classes dedicated to legal research.
Can I do my own case law research?
Yes you absolutely can. However, understanding the content and referencing & applying it in Court is a different story.
I have witnessed others trying to present case law but they were at a disadvantage as they lacked the proper legal training. While it is admirable that unrepresented individuals try to do it themselves, their application of case law rarely succeeds, as they will often choose the wrong case law or misinterpret the case law they use when presenting a defence.
While doing some research on your own is fine, consider this, if your plumbing pipes in your kitchen were to burst, would you try and fix the problem yourself? Or would you hire an experienced and qualified plumber?
When it comes to your driving licence and record, you may be much better served by retaining someone trained and experienced to answer the charges and competently present appropriate and focused defence(s).
Making case law ?
Not all legal representatives ( Paralegals ) will have successfully presented defences for their Clients that led to Case Law, in the Justice’s ruling. Some representatives may be concerned at the risk of creating an adverse case law decision, against future defence arguments.
It is advisable, if you are considering launching an Appeal, against a conviction, that you seriously consider retaining someone who has the prior experience of defending Clients that led to the creation of case law before.
Experience, and a proven track record are two important factors when considering who to retain. In an Appeal setting, if you are thinking of going it alone ( which we do not recommend ) just keep in mind, that you will be arguing before a Judge, who will have had a minimum service of at least 10 years as a lawyer before becoming a Judge. Whether you are appearing before a Justice of the Peace or before a Judge to answer to charges or for an Appeal hearing, you are always better off, if you put forward the best defence you can. That’s where Lighthouse Legal Services can help……
Why Hire You?
It’s important to hire someone you can TRUST, and feel comfortable that they have your best interests in mind at all times.
Choosing the right Paralegal, one who is experienced, dedicated and hard-working is a good start. You may also want to ask around, and retain someone who others have retained previously and can recommend. Personal experiences and recommendations may be the best deciding factor.
There are many individuals and companies to choose from. Lighthouse Legal Services likes to pride itself on exemplary personalised customer service.
Brian Morris is the owner of Lighthouse Legal Services. As a licensed Paralegal, he has successfully defended thousands of Clients. Brian is extremely dedicated and works hard to provide the best defence possible for all of his Clients.
Some of his clients Trial decisions and successful outcomes have led to the Courts creating case law, for Careless Driving.
Brian put forward arguments and evidence that was ultimately relied upon by the Court to define what a “Driver” is in Ontario. He has also successfully appealed amber light convictions.
If you are wondering who to hire, to help you to Appeal a conviction. Hiring a Paralegal who understands Appeal strategies is an important consideration,
Not knowing or utilizing the correct strategy can make a huge difference. Brian has the proven experience to know what cases to take forward to Appeal, and which cases to turn away.
An equally important consideration to bear in mind, is Brian’s honesty and ethical approach. He only accepts those Clients he genuinely feels he can successfully help.
If after speaking with you, Brian determines that your appeal is in his opinion, frivolous and /or without merit and is unlikely to be successful, he will tell you. And he may determine not to let you hire him.
However, if he considers that you do have sufficient grounds to go forward with an Appeal, he will do all he can to help you succeed.
Brian is always happy to consult with you if you are unsure as to whether or not you have sufficient grounds to proceed.
How do you define what qualifies as a Clean driving record?
When first meeting with Clients, many have the impression that having a clean driving record means that they have simply had no convictions in the last 3 years.
But that alone, doesn’t necessarily mean that you have a clean driving record.
It all depends on the circumstances in which you use the term.
When you are purchasing new insurance coverage, or renewing insurance, the common practice is for insurance companies to request a copy of your driving record for the previous 3 years. But, having no Traffic convictions in the past 3 years, does not necessarily mean that you have a clean driving record.
When you are dealing with the Prosecutors, they look at your entire driving history, and driving infractions do remain on your driving record further back than just three years.
So, while for insurance purposes, you may be considered to have a clean driving record for the past 3 years, when it comes to dealing with the Prosecution, any conviction you have obtained will have stayed with your driving record and may have an effect of how your case is handled in Court.
There is also another factor to take into consideration, as some charges, like Driving While Under Suspension can have additional penalties, if you have been convicted of the same offence before.
So what does that mean?
It means that if you were convicted of Driving While Under Suspension previously, and are subsequently charged with the same offence again; you will be placed into a higher penalty bracket than before.
Meaning, you are now facing greater fines, and the Prosecution may seek for a potentially far worse penalty,i.e. a term of imprisonment.
Subsequent offences like Driving Under Suspension, will never leave your record, and if you rack up numerous convictions in your lifetime, don’t be surprised if Crown Prosecutors are seeking a 6 month term of imprisonment.
If your case, is postponed or delayed, you are welcome to contact us for a FREE consultation to learn more.
Lighthouse Legal Services receives a lot of questions about, “How early I should arrive at the Court?”
We suggest arriving 30 minutes in advance of your scheduled Court time, just in case you are delayed by traffic, or can’t find parking.
Plus, if you are meeting with a Lighthouse Legal representative/Paralegal (If you have hired us of course), they always prefer to speak to the Client just prior to proceedings starting in Court.
Another question we always get asked from unrepresented Defendants is, “Do they call the Court List in alphabetical order.”
The short answer is, “No”. The Prosecutor or Crown Attorney can call the Court Docket as they see fit. Generally, the quicker / simpler matters will go first, and Trials will be heard last.
So try to be patient, if you arrive early, you may also get out early depending on if you plead guilty vs. not guilty.
There are three A’s you should consider when attending Court. Attitude, Awareness, and Appearance.
If you go into Court with a poor attitude, or expect to be catered too, think again.
Traffic Court is not a Court of Convenience. While Court Staff will do their best to expedite your matters as quickly as they can, please do not expect to be catered to.
You need to attend on time, and be respectful to everyone that is in attendance in the Court building and Courtroom.
Awareness is another thing to consider. When you are in a Courtroom, do make sure your phone is turned off. Don’t bring a book inside with you to read. And don’t talk loudly with others in Court while sitting and observing other matters that are being heard by the Justice.
The presiding Justice may single you out for a few choice words if you are noisy and interrupt proceedings or start having casual conversations with those next to you. You could even find yourself charged with being in Contempt of Court.
The best way to act, is with respect and quietly.
Finally, make sure you are dressed appropriately for Court. Don’t dress for the beach or a costume party. It’s best not to wear flip flops, tanks tops or anything else that could be considered offensive or inappropriate.
Over the years, I have seen a number of Defendant’s get into trouble inside the Courtroom for issues that don’t even relate to their charges. Just consider that if you dress or act inappropriately, it could end up delaying your matter from proceeding or concluding.
So just remember, that if you do plan on attending a day in Court, keep the following in mind,
Plan ahead, and make arrangements to be there all day
There are no guarantees, as to when you matter will be dealt with
Do not have a bad attitude, and try to stay positive
Be aware you are in a Courtroom (When Court is in session – Turn off Cell Phones, No Reading, & No Talking – unless called upon)