In Nova Scotia, summary offence tickets (SOTs) issued under the Motor Vehicle Act, the Liquor Control Act, municipal bylaws and some federal laws, are prosecuted in the Provincial Court.
Summary offence tickets are not criminal charges. In most areas of the province, these matters are dealt with in court during the day. However, in the Halifax Regional Municipality and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, these matters are typically heard by a Presiding Justice of the Peace in the evening. This is referred to as Night Court.
When someone is charged with a summary offence, the ticket shows the offence, a brief police record of the information relating to the offence, the due date before which the person must visit the Court Administration Office, and the court which has jurisdiction over the case.
Summary offences are punishable on summary conviction and are liable for fines of not more than $2,000, to imprisonment for up to six months, or to both a fine and imprisonment. The total penalty for the offence is shown on the ticket.
Night Court Locations
Frequently Asked Questions
If you receive a summary offence ticket, you have two options: plead guilty and pay the fine or file a Notice of Intention to appear in court. In either instance, your first stop will be to the Court Administration Office. Staff there will walk you through the process but they cannot provide legal advice.
That depends. You do not have to go to court if you intend to plead guilty and pay the fine before the court date indicated on your ticket. However, if any of the following apply, then you or your representative must go to court:
- you intend to argue the ticket;
- there is no fine shown on the ticket;
- you wish to ask for more time to pay the fine;
- you wish to ask for a change to the license suspension you might face if you are found guilty of the offence; or
- you have other such questions to ask the court.
There are three ways to pay your ticket:
- PAY ONLINE
- Mail your signed ticket and a money order or cheque to the address indicated on the ticket. Cheques must be made out to ‘The Provincial Court’. Do not send cash in the mail.
- Pay in person at any courthouse in Nova Scotia. Payment can be made by cash, cheque, money order, debit, MasterCard or Visa. Please bring your ticket with you.
If your ticket was issued in the Halifax Regional Municipality, your matter will be heard at either Provincial Court in Halifax (5250 Spring Garden Rd.) or Dartmouth (277 Pleasant St.). Your court documents will indicate which one. Most summary offence matters are heard in the evening in Halifax by a Presiding Justice of the Peace. This is often referred to as Night Court. You should try to arrive at the courthouse early. If you arrive late for your court appearance, you may be convicted in your absence.
If your ticket was issued in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, your matter will be heard at the courthouse in Sydney at 136 Charlotte Street.
In Halifax, Night Court sits at 6 p.m. four days a week (Mondays - Thursdays). In Sydney, Night Court sits every Monday at 6 p.m. to hear peace bond applications and at 6 p.m. every Wednesday for Motor Vehicle Act infractions. Occasionally, Night Court in Sydney will also sit on Tuesday evenings, as needed, to deal with any backlog.
It is your responsibility to make it to court on the date and time indicated. If you do not make it to court, you may be convicted in your absence and if a license suspension applies, your driver’s license will be suspended. A Justice of the Peace may grant adjournments for valid reasons, particularly when you apply for an adjournment well before the trial date. If you are unable to attend Court for any reason, contact the Court Administration Office immediately. Staff can assist with adjournment requests but they cannot adjourn your matter — that is up to a Justice of the Peace.
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In most instances, a Justice of the Peace will enter a conviction in your absence. If a license suspension applies, your driver’s license will also be uspended. A notice of conviction will be mailed to you showing the fine you must pay, default time, and a date by which the fine must be paid.
Within 60 days of your conviction date, you can visit Court Administration and ask that your conviction be struck. A Justice of the Peace will strike your
conviction, provide you with a certificate and a trial date at which you can now appear to contest the ticket.
Beyond 60 days of your conviction date, you can visit Court Administration and ask for a hearing before a Provincial Court Judge. In these instances, there is an application fee of $54.50 per ticket or $81.75 for multiple tickets with the same conviction date. For multiple tickets with different conviction dates, the application fee is $54.50 per ticket.
Your fine may be sent to another government department for collection. As well, if you were convicted of any motor vehicle related offence, the Nova Scotia Registry of Motor Vehicles may refuse to renew your driver’s license or vehicle permit, or provide you with any other service until the fine is paid. The Registry will also charge you an additional fee to regain that privilege.
If you receive a summary offence ticket for not having your driver's license or proof of insurance while driving, and you can provide valid documentation to prove otherwise, you can apply to have the ticket(s) withdrawn without going to court.
If the ticket was issued by Halifax Regional Police or Halifax District RCMP, you can visit Police Headquarters at 1975 Gottingen St., Halifax, to have your ticket cancelled. The office is open Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION ON THIS PROCESS >>