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When can you be charged or arrested?

Region: Ontario Answer Number: 746

Being charged by the police or a member of the public

You can be charged by the police if they see you committing an offence, or if they have a reasonable belief that you have committed an offence. You could also be charged if a member of the public can satisfy a justice of the peace that you have committed an offence.

Being charged

Although the police will usually both charge and arrest you, for some minor offences you may only be charged, and not arrested. If you are only charged, the police might not take you to the police station. Instead, they will just give you a piece of paper that lists two dates: one date will be to have fingerprints and photographs taken, and the other date will be when and where to go to court to set a date for trial. If you do not appear for either of these two dates you can be charged with a separate offence of failure to appear.

Being arrested

If the police arrest you it usually means that the offence is more serious. The police will read you your rights and take you to the police station where you will be fingerprinted and photographed. When you are arrested, the police also have the power to search you.

Even if you are charged with an offence that is not considered serious, the police may still decide to arrest you in addition to charging you. This will happen if you do not identify yourself, if the police believe that you might destroy evidence, or if the police believe that you might repeat the offence. In any event, it is best to consult a lawyer as soon as possible. The police should provide you with a telephone and some privacy when you are speaking with your lawyer.

For more information about criminal law and the justice system in Canada, visit the Government of Canada, Department of Justice, or the Ontario Ministry of the Attorney General.

To erase your criminal record, call toll-free 1-866-898-7767 or learn more at Pardon Pros. It’s easier than you think.

If you have been charged with a criminal offence, contact our preferred experts, Rotenberg Shidlowski Jesin Criminal Lawyers .


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