Someone is trespassing on my property. What can I do?

5. Go to court if there is a trial

You may be asked to go to Provincial Offences Court as a witness. You will be given the date and time of the trial. If you don’t go to court, the case will be dismissed.

Most trials are open to the public. And your name, and the name of any other witnesses, becomes part of the public record.

Trials are decided by a Justice of the Peace.

The prosecutor presents their evidence first on behalf of the government. The legal test is beyond a reasonable doubt. This means the prosecutor must show close to an absolute certainty that the trespasser entered your property when entry was not allowed, or that they did something that was not allowed while on your property.

The trespasser presents their evidence after the prosecutor. This might mean showing that they did not trespass, or that they have a defence. Some defences include the defence of:

  • “due diligence”: This means that the trespasser took all reasonable steps to avoid trespassing, had permission to be on the property, or believed that they owned the property
  • “necessity”: This means that the trespasser had no legal alternative but to trespass, for example, in an emergency situation
  • problems with the ticket: For example,

Both the prosecutor and the trespasser get to ask the witnesses questions. The Justice of the Peace may also ask questions. As a witness, you should:

  • tell the truth
  • listen carefully to the question, and wait until the entire question is asked before answering
  • answer only the question that is asked
  • think before answering each question
  • don’t guess
  • ask for clarification if required
  • be cooperative and polite

At the end of the hearing, the Justice of the Peace decides if the person is guilty. If the person is found guilty, the Justice of the Peace may sentence them right away or adjourn sentencing to another date.

There are a range of sentences in Provincial Offences Court. The amount of the fine varies depending on the bylaw, what the prosecutor is asking for, and what the court decides.

For more information about a provincial offences trial, read the question: What happens at a provincial offences trial, and how to I prepare?

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