Location: Newmarket Ontario Court of Justice
York Regional Police were dispatched to a motor vehicle collision in the City of Vaughan. Witnesses spoke with police and advised that a male party was riding his bike when he was struck by an SUV after the vehicle failed to stop during a right-hand turn at an intersection. Witnesses indicated that the driver then fled the scene in the SUV. The police were able to obtain a full licence plate number and a description of the driver from witnesses. During the close of the investigation the accused returned to the scene in the SUV. The client was charged with dangerous driving and failing to remain at the scene of the accident. The client had no criminal record and was screened for significant jail time.
After review of all disclosure and significant case law research it was determined there were two main issues.
The first issue was with respect to the charge of Dangerous Driving. The Crown has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that there exists driving behaviour that is of a marked departure from that of a standard and prudent driver. There is also a requirement that the Crown prove that the driving behaviour was intentional. An analysis of whether driving behaviour is such that it falls under the criminal liability of dangerous driving involves looking at driving behaviour on a spectrum which progresses from merely accidental, to careless, and ultimately to dangerous driving. There did not appear to be any evidence of dangerous driving on these facts.
The second issue was with respect to the charge of failing to stop. The Criminal Code requires that the Crown prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused failed to stop at the scene of the accident. On these facts, it was clear that the client failed to stop. However, he did return to the scene shortly thereafter. There is no immediacy requirement in the Criminal Code definition of the charge of failing to stop pursuant to Section 320.16(1).
After review of all disclosure it was determined that the client did nothing criminal. The driving behaviour was merely inattentive and what transpired was an accident. This was a case where the police overcharged our client and the strategy was to arm ourselves with case law and to avoid a costly trial for the client by having the charges withdrawn.
Following a Crown pre-trial with an Assistant Crown Attorney, the Crown agreed with the defence position and withdrew the charges. The client came to our office facing jail time and the matter concluded with all charges being withdrawn before trial.