Skip to content

Court Sittings

This section provides information about how municipal court hearings are held.

 

  • You have the right to consult with a lawyer before entering a plea or presenting a preliminary application or at any other time in the process. You are not obliged to be represented by a lawyer. It is up to you to decide whether you wish to be represented.

  • You must come to the municipal court at the time and date shown on the notice of hearing. It is up to you to inform your witnesses, if any.

    If you absolutely cannot be there on the date shown on the notice of hearing, you must submit to the judge a duly signed written request for adjournment, stating the reasons you cannot be present. The reasons must be serious and justified.

    The request must be filed with the municipal court office at least three clear juridical days before the date of presentation.  To file a request, complete the Request for Adjournment form and send it to us:

    The request may be contested by the case prosecutor. It is up to the judge to grant or reject it. If it is granted, a new date will be set based on the court’s availability. Please contact the court clerk for information about availability. If it is rejected, a default judgment will be rendered in your absence.

    Please note that if a request for adjournment has been granted for your case and a date has been set, your presence in court is required.

    Please note that adjournment fees based on the Tariff of court costs in penal matters will be charged if you are found guilty of the infraction in question.

    A request for adjournment cannot be made for a criminal case; you or your lawyer must be present. Otherwise, an arrest warrant will be issued against you. For further information, please see Criminal cases.

    • Be appropriately dressed.
    • Do not chew gum.
    • Stand up when the judge enters or leaves the hearing room and remain standing until the judge sits down or has left the room.
    • Address the judge as “Your Honour.”
    • Address the prosecutor as “Maître” or Mr./Ms. and their last name.
    • If you are speaking French, always use the “vous” form for everyone present (judge, prosecutors, clerk, witnesses, etc.).
    • Stand up when you address these people.
    • Speak directly to the judge, not to the opposing party, unless you are questioning a witness.
    • Always use proper, courteous language.
    • Remain silent when you do not have the floor.
    • Never interrupt the judge when the judgment is being rendered.
    • Avoid making noise at all times.
    • Avoid arguing with the other party.
    • Remain calm and control your emotions.

    Access to the court may be denied to:

    • Children under 14, unless they are called to witness
    • People with a camera or recording device
    • People who refuse to turn off their cell phones or pagers
    • People wearing a hat or cap, etc.
    • People who are unsuitably dressed (wearing, for example, an open blouse or shirt, a singlet, shorts, a bathing suit or sunglasses)

    The following actions may result in expulsion from the hearing room:

    • Smoking, chewing gum or consuming food or drinks
    • Handling a cell phone or other electronic device
    • Talking, reading, writing, making noise or gesticulating
    • Adopting a relaxed posture (e.g., elbows on back rests, arms behind head, etc.)
  • A penal process generally includes four parts, which are explained below.

    1. Prosecution evidence
    2. Defence evidence
    3. Pleadings
    4. Judgment

    1. Prosecution evidence

    The prosecutor presents their evidence to the judge first. This may be no more than the ticket you received and the offence report, including the written testimony of the police officer or the authorized person who drafted them. If you want to cross-examine this officer of the peace or person, however, you can make a written request to the municipal court prosecutor for them to be present. The judge may impose fees, though, if you are found guilty and the judge is convinced that the documentary evidence would have been sufficient and that the testimonies did not add anything of significance.

    In some circumstances, the prosecutor may call witnesses: the police officer or another municipal officer who issued the ticket or any person whose testimony may be required.

    You can then cross-examine these witnesses. If you choose to be represented by a lawyer, the lawyer can do the cross-examination. At this stage, you should not give your version of the facts. The purpose of your questions to the prosecution witness is to verify the reliability, accuracy or truth of the testimony and to reveal any contradictions or new facts that may help your defence.

    Either party can ask the judge for witnesses to be excluded during the testimony of other witnesses, so a subsequent witness does not hear the testimony of the previous witness.

    2. Defence evidence

    At this stage, you are called to the witness stand and asked to swear an oath. You have to state your name, address, date of birth and occupation. You will then have the opportunity to present your defence, testify and call your witnesses, if you have any. You can choose the order in which you and your witnesses testify. You cannot ask leading questions to your witnesses.

    You can also produce documents or other exhibits to support your defence (photos, sketches, invoices, etc.). When you present the documents, you must give them to the court clerk-usher. Submitted evidence will be kept in the court file for 30 days following the pronouncement of the final judgment or sentence. After this time, if no appeal is filed, you may present a receipt to withdraw an exhibit you submitted, unless this exhibit has been seized. To withdraw an exhibit, you must address the court clerk.

    After the defence evidence is presented, the prosecutor may cross-examine you and your witnesses.

    The judge is neutral and independent. The only thing the judge knows about the case is what is on the ticket and in the submitted evidence. For this reason, the judge may also question you.

    3. Pleadings

    Each party will then be asked to make their final arguments. These are called “pleadings.” In their summary of the facts and claims, each party will try to be more convincing. In your arguments, you should emphasize to the judge the evidence that supports your claim that you are not guilty. At this stage, you should not repeat your testimony or that of your witnesses.

    4. Judgment

    The judge will either pronounce a judgment immediately in the court sitting or take the matter under deliberation and render a judgment at a later date.

    In either case, you will receive a notice of judgment by mail.

    If you are found not guilty, you will have nothing to pay and the case will be closed.

    If you are found guilty of the infraction, you will have to pay the amount of the fine plus the additional fees set out in the Tariff of court costs in penal matters. The total amount owing will be shown on the notice of judgment that you receive by mail. A defendant has 30 days after the date of the guilty ruling to pay the total amount claimed. It is important to meet the deadline to avoid having facilities to enforce the judgment launched to recover the money. Several methods of payment can be used to pay the sum.

    To learn more about the judiciary process and prepare for a hearing, you can read the Fondation du Barreau du Québec booklet Representing Yourself in Court in Criminal and Penal Matters (in French only)

  • An application for a revocation of judgment is a legal procedure that allows a defendant convicted by default to ask a judge to reverse the judgment and ask for the right to a new hearing. This application must be made within 15 days of when the defendant becomes aware of the judgment. You must have valid reasons for requesting a revocation of judgment. Only the judge can assess the validity of your reasons.

    An application for a revocation of judgment must be sworn under oath. A non-refundable legal fee will be charged when you make the submission at the court office. An application for a revocation of judgment is not a right of appeal and does not rectify a defendant’s negligence. To avoid pointless procedures and fees, it is best to consult with a lawyer to see whether this recourse applies in your case. The personnel at the municipal court is not able to provide information about this and not able to offer a legal opinion.

    If you want to file an application, please use the  Application for revocation of a judgment  form.

    Right of appeal

    You have 30 days to appeal a first-instance judgment to the Superior Court of Québec. For further information, please contact a lawyer. The personnel at the municipal court is not able to provide information about this and not able to offer a legal opinion.

  • For criminal matters, you will be called to appear personally before the court to answer the charges against you.

    A convening order asking you to appear in court may be delivered in person by an officer of the peace at the time of the police intervention. You may also receive, by bailiff, officer of the peace or mail, a document called a “summons.”

    In all these cases, it is an obligation to appear in court on the date shown. You must go to the court or an arrest warrant may be issued against you and you may be detained. The appearance is the first step of a court case. This is when you will plead guilty or not guilty. As this is not your hearing, you will not need witnesses at this time.

    The disclosure of evidence will be given to you by the prosecutor during your appearance. We recommend that you consult with a lawyer to be properly informed about the legal consequences of pleading guilty to criminal charges. If you do not have a lawyer, you can contact one of the legal aid offices in the region or check the Barreau du Québec directory of lawyers.

    To learn more about the judiciary process and prepare for a hearing, you can read the Fondation du Barreau du Québec booklet Representing Yourself in Court in Criminal and Penal Matters (in French only)

The Ville de Châteauguay website is not compatible with Internet Explorer 11 and earlier. For the optimal browsing experience, please update your browser using the free download options for Microsoft Edge and Google Chrome.