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!
Legislative changes to Communication Devices (Cell Phone Tickets)
Recently, In December of 2017 the Ontario Liberal Government toughened up the penalties for Drive hand-held communication device charges. The ticket would formerly cost you $490 and 3 demerit points. Now, the ticket will cost you a minimum of $500 + Court Costs, and Victim Fine Surchage, which should surpass the $600 mark for the total fine on the ticket. Additionally, the ticket will now carry a 3 day suspension upon your first conviction. A 7 day suspension on a subsequent conviction, and 30 day suspension on a second subsequent conviction.
The government has also put limitations on what resolutions are available at Court. In Richmond Hill and Newmarket Traffic Court, there was a possibility of resolving a s. 78.1(1) Drive hand-held communication device ticket to an owner violation charge under s. 207. The s. 207 resolution would not affect a Defendant’s driving record, and would just carry a fine. Most Defendant’s would accept this resolution to avoid a trial. This system would allow the courts to resolve matters, and free-up court time, while still sending the message of general and specific deterrence to the Defendant and the Public.
So what does this all mean? Well first off, since the resolution of 207 is off the table, it will give Defendant’s less options to consider. Will you be able to get a 0 demerit point resolution? Maybe, but it will be much more difficult than before. The likelihood now is will be seeing more and more Drive hand-held communication device Trials being conducted because of the new suspension penalties.
The new penalties come in to effect on January 1, 2019
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.
There are several exceptions that exist in law, which can exempt you from having to wear your seat belt. While, it is advisable to wear your seat belt, ( as it can protect you from serious injury ) some individuals are just not in the position to wear it for a variety of reasons. The following conditions may exempt you from wearing a seat belt. For example:
If you have a medical condition that prohibits you from wearing it, or due to your build, size, and physical characteristics . (Backed up with a Doctor’s Note/certificate advising your inability to wear a seat belt)
While you are in the course of business, making frequent deliveries while travelling under 40 km/hr
If you are unable to wear it for a valid medical reason, please ensure that you visit your doctor first to enquire if you qualify for an exemption.
106(2) Driver – Fail to Properly Wear Seat Belt
Wearing it properly
Remember that you are required to wear the seat belt assembly “properly”. If you have a shoulder strap, you cannot tuck it away under your arm. You can be issued a seat belt ticket for not wearing it properly.
Passengers Under 16 years Old
Make sure that if you have any passengers under the age of 16 years old, travelling with you, that they are also wearing their seat belt. If you do not, don’t be surprised if you get a traffic ticket.
Passengers 16 years and Older
Anyone 16 years or older is responsible for their own seat belt being worn properly. Passengers 16 years and older can receive their own traffic ticket, as a result of not wearing a seatbelt properly, even if they don’t have a driver’s licence.
If you have any other questions or concerns regarding this post, or have a seat belt ticket, please contact us at Lighthouse Legal Services for a free consultation.
Many people we encounter, don’t always understand why they were charged with Careless Driving, for a minor fender bender.
Careless Driving, after all is a very serious traffic ticket. But it is best not to despair if you have received a Traffic Ticket charge for Careless Driving.
The following information may answer some of the questions you may have about Careless Driving.
To begin with, Careless Driving is laid against driver’s for a variety of reasons. From simple fender benders, to serious fatal collisions.
The charge can also be laid for a variety of minor to serious accident scenarios. But, it can also be laid against you even when you haven’t been involved in an accident.
So, now you may be wondering, how can that be? How can a charge of Careless Driving be laid against a driver for everything from a serious, or a minor collision, to no accident at all?
The short answer is, the Police can charge drivers for accidents they perceive to have been caused by a lack of due care and attention. Or where they perceive you were driving without reasonable consideration for others using the highway, or for both reasons.
Think of Careless Driving as a blanket charge, that can be used in a variety of different scenarios. An accident does not need to occur, for you to be charged with this offence.
However, it is a charge that is regularly laid against the majority of drivers, whenever they are involved in collisions in Ontario.
I do not think I was Driving Carelessly!
Sometimes accidents are just accidents, and no one is to blame. In other situations, accidents may well have been caused by a driver. But that doesn’t automatically make you guilty of Careless Driving.
There are so many factors and variables to consider in each situation or accident, and those factors will need to be assessed & considered to the most relevant & leading Case Law in Ontario and Canada.
So while you may have been involved in an accident, and you may think you could be found to be at fault. You may not actually be at fault, for violating the Highway Traffic Act, relevant to a charge of Careless Driving.
It really comes down to a case by case analysis, but you would be wise to consult with a an experience & Licensed Paralegal.
Lighthouse Legal Services would be pleased to offer you a *FREE consultation, so that you can learn more about your options.
Should I Speak to the Police?
That is entirely your hoice. You have a Charter Right to Remain Silent, but if you choose to speak to the police, you should know that anything you say can be used against you in Court.
In my experience, the majority of Defendants who give a statement, without first obtaining advice from a trained and licensed Paralegal, can end up receiving a ticket for Careless Driving.
The Officer told me to fight my Ticket?
It can be a confusing process if a Police Officer hands you a ticket, and also advises you to go to Court fight it. I can’t give you an explanation as to why this occurs, but in my opinion, I believe that the Police Officers understand the seriousness and potential consequences of laying a Careless Driving charge.
And simply paying the amount on the ticket, and not successfully defending against the charge could result in you being dropped by your insurance provider, and also possibly placed into high-risk category for future vehicle insurance.
During most traffic stops, the Police Officers do take the time to explain to you the options laid out on the back of the Traffic ticket. But be mindful, that no Defendant should be taking legal advice from the Police, since they are in the business of law enforcement and will be trying to convict you if they charged you.
It is important that you Seek proper legal advice if you have been charged with Careless Driving to explore what your legal options are available.
Why should I Hire You if I’ve been charged with Careless Driving?
Your Traffic Ticket charge(s) could be quashed, stayed, acquitted, or dismissed by the Court, depending on a variety of factors.
You are going to have a much better chance of successfully defending, or winning at Trial, against the very serious charge of Careless Driving, if you have retained an experienced and qualified legal representative.
Knowing how to get a positive result can be the key to preparing, presenting & achieving a successful defence against a charge of Careless Driving, or appealing a conviction.
At Lighthouse Legal Services, Brian Morris is considered the Best Advocate for Careless Driving Trials, and Appeals. His defence arguments and successful Trial decisions in Traffic Court have previously led to the Court creating case law for Careless Driving cases throughout Ontario.
Those case law decisions are binding on the lower Courts to follow in the appropriate circumstances.
At Lighthouse Legal Services
We know the laws, procedures, and rules of the Court
We know how to develop the best possible strategies to achieve success
We know what questions to ask, & how to ask those questions
We have Case Law expertise, and will thoroughly research all major rulings that relate to Careless Driving, and the case law that relates to Provincial Offences Trials
We strive to capably represent & protect your Charter of Rights
One of the most common traffic ticket violations given to drivers is Ontario is speeding. Speed enforcement conducted by the police can include radar device, laser speed device, aircraft speed enforcement of pacing.
Local and Provincial Police, commonly use radar devices to conduct speed enforcement. Generally, these devices can be used by police in a stationary position, or while in motion.
So, if you see a police cruiser approaching you from the other direction, chances are they may have an active radar device in “approach” or “away” mode, which can register your speed. It is also important to note, that these devices have testing procedures. The procedures guide & instruct the operator in how to properly work the device, and how to ensure that the device is in proper working order.
Unlike radar, Laser speed enforcement is used in stationary positions only. Similar to radar devices, the laser speed devices also have setup procedures to ensure the Police officer is using the device properly, and to see if the device is properly functioning.
Aircraft Speed Enforcement
You often see road signs warning motorists on 400 series highways about aircraft speed enforcement. It’s true that the police do patrol and enforce speeding laws by aircraft. The process of speed enforcement with aircraft is not too sophisticated. The police officer simply uses a stop-watch to time a motor vehicle between highway road markers. Then simple math is used to calculate speed through distance over time.
This method of speed enforcement is the least familiar to drivers and defendants.
The police can charge you with a speeding offence, if they are able to pace you at a constant speed for a given period of time. This method of speed enforcement has been known to happen primarily on 400 series highways, but can also occur on regional roads. Unmarked cruisers are more suited and used for this type of speed enforcement for obvious reasons.
Beware of phony auto insurance policies. I have met Defendants who were not my clients, that claimed they purchased vehicle insurance from someone at a coffee shop. Now this is problematic for several reasons, as you are most likely not insured legally. And in the event of an accident you may be personally liable. So our advice to you, is to avoid purchasing insurance policies from strangers at coffee shops.
What happens if you don’t pay for legitimate auto insurance?
For a first offence, you are facing a minimum $5,000 fine plus court costs and victim fine surcharges, which totals approximately $6,185.
Remember, that is the minimum you can be facing, as a maximum fine of $25,000 plus court costs and victim fine surcharge, can surpass a total of $30,000. On a subsequent second offence, the fine doubles!
So it is your responsibility to ensure that any Insurance you purchase is from a legitimate Insurance Company
Many people believe, that since No Insurance charges do not carry demerit points, it won’t affect their insurance rates and premiums?
That belief is incorrect. Since Convictions; the frequency of how many convictions you receive, and the nature of your convictions can all affect your insurance rates and Premiums.
There are numerous other factors that insurance companies use to determine insurance fee adjustments. To fully understand those possible increases to your insurance rates, you are advised to check with your insurance company directly.
As only your Insurer can provide you with correct answers
Fighting and Defending No Insurance
If you believe you have a defence to the charge of No Insurance, or you are not quite sure, but think you may have a defence to the charge, you are invited to contact us.
We can help guide you through the legal process, and can help to understand your options and also defend you against the charge(s).
We have had great success in defending thousands of No Insurance charges, and have saved our Clients thousands of dollars.
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.
142 (1) The driver or operator of a vehicle upon a highway before turning to the left or right at any intersection or into a private road or driveway or from one lane for traffic to another lane for traffic or to leave the roadway shall first see that the movement can be made in safety, and if the operation of any other vehicle may be affected by the movement shall give a signal plainly visible to the driver or operator of the other vehicle of the intention to make the movement. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 142 (1).
Answer: Yes, it is always prudent to indicate when making a lane change, especially if any movement you make may affect the operation of any other vehicle. If there are no other vehicles in your proximity, you may change lanes without indicating, as long as your movement doesn’t affect the operation of any other vehicles around you.
For safety reasons it is always advisable to always use your indicator, especially at night even when there is no other traffic around you, to help ensure that you are visible to other motorists.
Section 142(1) can also be used to charge Drivers who allegedly Fail To Signal for Turn, or Turn – Not In Safety.
All of these traffic offences carry 2 Demerit points, and can possibly lead to increases in your auto insurance premiums, if you are convicted
Contact Lighthouse Legal Services if you have been charged with Section 142(1) of the Highway Traffic Act, and learn how we can help defend your charge for your Change Lane – Not In Safety, Turn – Not In Safety or Fail to Signal for Turn traffic ticket.
Do you have to stop for an amber light? The legislation states you SHALL stop your vehicle if you can do so safely. But if you cannot stop your vehicle safely, you are allowed to proceed through the amber light with caution.
(15) Every driver approaching a traffic control signal showing a circular amber indication and facing the indication shall stop his or her vehicle if he or she can do so safely, otherwise he or she may proceed with caution. R.S.O. 1990, c. H.8, s. 144 (15).
Many motorists are shocked when they receive these types of offences, because they are under the impression that you can always proceed through an amber light.
But clearly, the legislation would like you to stop if you can, and allows you to proceed through, if you have to, and only if you can do so, with caution.
Amber Light – Fail to Stop charges carries 3 demerit points, and it can potentially increase your auto insurance premiums, if you decide not to defend a Traffic Ticket charge and just pay the ticket automatically
Before you consider just paying the ticket, why not contact us for a FREE consultation.
We have experience defending fight Amber Light charges across Ontario in all the Courts.