Area of Law: Criminal Law
Answer # 786
What happens if the police refuse to lay charges?Region: Ontario Answer # 786
Laying charges through a justice of the peace
The police will always lay charges when they believe a crime has been committed. However, if an offence has been committed and the police will not lay a charge, any member of the public can take steps to have a charge laid by meeting with a justice of the peace and swearing what is called an information. An information is a piece of paper that contains the details of the offence. When you meet with the justice of the peace, you will have to explain the details of what happened and swear an oath that you believe a criminal offence has been committed.
As per the Criminal Code, because the information is brought to the court by a private citizen, the justice of the peace must then refer it to a provincial court judge, or in Quebec, a judge of the Court of Quebec, or another designated justice of the peace, who will hold a special hearing to decide if the person you accused should be compelled to attend court and answer to the charge. If during the hearing it is determined that an offence has been committed, the justice will issue a summons or warrant which is a document that orders the person to come to court on a certain day.
If the justice does not believe you or does not believe that an offence has been committed, no legal action will be taken against the alleged offender.
If charges are laid, the Crown prosecutor will step in and take over the prosecution. If you are unsure of how to have charges laid or what options you have, you should consult a lawyer.
If you have been charged with a crime and need a criminal defence lawyer, contact our preferred criminal defence expert, Calvin Barry Criminal Lawyers.
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