Tickets and fines are handled by municipally-run courts. Common offences include:
- Excessive noise
- Driving without a permit
- Disobeying traffic signs
- Parking infractions
- Not having proof of insurance
- Public intoxication
Guide for Defendants in Provincial Offences Cases
This Guide provides defendants with general information about the court process for provincial offences cases. It does not cover every circumstance that might arise in your case.
This Guide does not provide legal advice.
You are strongly urged to get legal advice from a lawyer or paralegal about your legal options and the possible penalties you could face.
I just got a ticket, what do I do?
If your ticket is not a parking ticket
- After receiving an Offence Notice (ticket) you have three options:
- Plead guilty by paying the fine
- Visit a court office to plead guilty but make submissions about the penalty (amount of fine or time to pay)
- Request a trial. Depending on what your ticket says, you may need to either mail in your ticket showing that you want a trial or you may need to visit a court office to file a request for trial.
- If you do not choose one of the above options within 15 days of receiving the ticket, or if you do not appear for your trial, a Justice of the Peace will review your case and may enter a conviction without you there.
If your ticket is a parking ticket
- You have two options:
- Voluntarily pay the fine
- Challenge the ticket in court. Depending on what your ticket says, you may need to mail in your ticket or visit a location specified on the ticket, usually the local parking tags office.
How can I find a Provincial Offences Court?
How do I fight a ticket?
- You have the right to challenge your tickets in court. Many court locations permit defendants to meet with prosecutors before the trial to see if the charge can be resolved. If you receive an Offence Notice (ticket) for an offence other than parking, stopping or standing of a vehicle, you should phone the court and ask about First Attendance options.
How do I fill out a Notice of Intention to Appear?
- If your ticket says that you must attend court to request a trial, then you will be required to complete a Notice of Intention to Appear at the court office. It is vital that the information recorded on this document is written neatly, correctly and completely to ensure that notification, when mailed, will be directed properly.
How do I pay a ticket?
- Depending on the court location, there are several methods available to pay tickets, including:
- Online payment
- In-person payment
- Payment by mail
- Telephone payment.
- Please read your ticket for the payment options available to you and information about where to send your payment.
What are provincial offences?
Provincial offences are regulatory (non-criminal) offences that include, but are not limited to:
- Speeding, careless driving, or not wearing your seat belt
- Failing to surrender your insurance card or possessing a false or invalid insurance card
- Being intoxicated in a public place or selling alcohol to a minor
- Trespassing or failing to leave premises after being directed to do so
- Occupational Health and Safety Act and Ministry of Environment violations
- Noise, taxi and animal care city bylaws.
Why are there two amounts on my ticket?
- One amount is the set fine and the second is the total payable. The total payable consists of the set fine, court costs and the victim fine surcharge.
- For ticketable offences, the set fine amount is ordered by the Chief Judge or the Regional Senior Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice as an amount payable by the defendant instead of going to court to contest the charge.
- Defendants pay court costs for the service of the ticket and/or summons and upon conviction of an offence. The costs are authorized by Section 60 of the Provincial Offences Act and the amount is set by regulation.
What is the victim fine surcharge?
- The provincial government adds a victim fine surcharge (VFS) to every non-parking fine imposed under the Provincial Offences Act. It is deposited into a special fund to help victims of crime.
- The amount of the VFS is usually 20 per cent of the imposed fine. For example, a $100 fine would result in a $20 surcharge. Fines over $1,000 carry a surcharge of 25 per cent.
What happens if I ignore my ticket?
- If you do not respond to the ticket within 15 days, you may be convicted of the offence you are charged with.
- If you are convicted you would be required to pay the set fine, court costs and, if it is not a parking ticket, the victim fine surcharge by the due date.
- Failure to pay the fine imposed upon conviction by the due date will result in one or more of the following:
- For certain offences, including parking infractions, the Ontario Ministry of Transportation could refuse to issue or validate your vehicle permit
- For certain offences, including speeding, your driver's licence could be suspended
- You will be charged an additional administrative fee
- Your defaulted fine will be referred to a collection agency
- Your defaulted fine information will be given to a credit bureau.
How long do I have to respond once I receive a provincial offence ticket?
- Read and follow the instructions provided on back of the ticket. Within 15 days of receiving the ticket, you must choose one of the following options:
- Plead guilty and pay out of court
- Plead guilty but make submissions about penalty (e.g., amount of fine or time to pay)
- Go to trial.
What if I need more time to pay a provincial offence fine?
- If you need more time to pay a provincial offence fine, visit the court office noted on the back of your ticket.
- If you just received the ticket but cannot pay right away, you will be required to see a Justice of the Peace to plead guilty but ask for extra time to pay.
- If you have already been convicted, you will be asked to fill out a form that will be reviewed by a Justice of the Peace. This form will require you to fill in all of the information regarding your ticket including how much you have paid so far and a specific date that you would like it extended to.
Who can issue provincial offence tickets?
Many enforcement agencies can issue tickets, including:
Why are municipalities responsible for Provincial Offences Courts?
- The province transferred responsibility for the administration of the provincial offences courts to municipalities across Ontario.
What do Provincial Offences Courts do?
- Accept payment of fines
- Schedule trials
- Provide intake services (e.g. walk-in guilty pleas, re-opening applications, extension of time to pay, meetings with prosecutors, etc.)
- Manage certain aspects of the administration of appeals, such as inquiries, giving out forms and transcript production
- Provide information for general inquiries about Provincial Offences.
How do I find a lawyer or a paralegal?
Defendants can also find general information about the court process for provincial offences cases at the Ontario Court of Justice website.
Visit our legal glossary for a basic guide to common legal terms.
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