Sask. could see more COVID-19 fines get dropped, says lawyer
A Saskatoon lawyer says more COVID-19 fines could get dropped.
Fines can be dropped for two reasons: if it’s unlikely the case will result in a conviction or if it’s not in the public interest to proceed.
As more cases get adjourned to the fall, likely when public health restrictions get lifted, lawyer Brian Pfefferle said it’s possible more COVID-19-related charges will get dropped.
“I’d suggest there’s less of a public interest pursuing public health order cases if we’re not in the midst of a pandemic,” he said.
Pfefferle said “due diligence” can be a defence for these types of charges — if a business or person can show they’ve taken reasonable steps to comply with the public heath order, and it was just a brief moment of a breach.
About two weeks ago, a $14,000 fine laid against a Prince Albert church for allegedly violating the COVID-19 rules was dropped because there was evidence the charge would not likely result in a conviction.
“In general, the agency responsible for prosecuting a ticket decides whether it should proceed or not. That may be the police, a prosecution service, or another agency,” according to a statement from Saskatchewan’s Ministry of Justice.
Data from the ministry shows the majority of COVID-19-related fines have not resulted in convictions.
A total of 155 charges have been laid under the Public Health Act.
So far, since April 30, only 17 tickets have resulted in convictions.
The majority of the cases are awaiting a court date.