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You can print this checklist. It may help you to decide whether to challenge a fine in court.
This checklist is not legal advice. Not all of the actions or directions in the checklist will apply to your case.
You must elect to go to court before an overdue fine has been issued. For more information, see Electing to go to court.
If you have received an overdue fine, the only way you can elect to go to court is to first annul (cancel) the overdue fine. For more information, see Responding to an overdue fine.
If you pay a fine, you can still elect to go to court, but you must do so within 90 days of the date of the original penalty notice. If you don't make this decision within the 90-day period, you will not be able to elect to go to court.
Reason for the offence
Am I guilty or not guilty?
You may have received a fine in a situation where you did not intend to commit an offence. For example, stopping in a no stopping area because you didn't see a sign. Most fine matters are 'strict liability'. This means that even if you didn't mean to commit the offence, simply doing it is enough.
If you committed the offence, even unintentionally, you will generally need to plead guilty at court. You can provide an explanation when you plead guilty to explain why you don't think the fine is fair. The court will hear your explanation and consider whether there are any reasons why you shouldn't be fined or why you should get a smaller fine.
For more information, see Pleading guilty.
If you didn't commit the offence, for example, it wasn't you that committed the offence or you have a defence, you may enter a plea of not guilty. Sometimes working out if you have a defence may be difficult.
For more information, see Pleading not guilty.
Some offences are very difficult to challenge in court. If you were caught speeding by a speed camera, the photograph taken of your car will be used as evidence against you. It will include the speed you were going. The photo will be conclusive proof that you were speeding, unless:
The security indicator is evidence the photo has not been changed. If the security indicator is not present, the court may not accept the photo as evidence.
Before electing to go to court, you should get legal advice.
Costs of going to court
How much will it cost me?
You don't have to pay an application fee when you elect to go to court. However, if you choose to go to court, you need to be aware that the court has the power to give you a higher fine than the one you originally received.
The court can also order that you pay court costs, professional costs and you may have to pay the victim's compensation levy.
For more information, see Costs in fine cases.
Going to court
Do I have to go to court in person?
If you elect to go to court, you will receive a Court Attendance Notice (CAN) or letter telling you which court you have to go to and on what day and time. You will usually have to go to court in person. Your case will be listed at the court closest to where the alleged offence happened. You may be there all day depending on how busy the court is.
If you plead guilty, you may be able to have the court deal with the matter without you.
For more information, see Pleading guilty in writing.
If you plead not guilty, you may be able to send a letter to the court before the first court date (the mention) telling the court that you are pleading not guilty. If the court accepts your not guilty plea in writing, you may not have to go to court for the mention. You will still need to go to court for the hearing.
For more information, see Pleading not guilty in writing.