Have you been charged with a criminal offence and are required to appear in court in Bancroft, Ontario? If so, there are some pertinent things you should know and pre-emptive steps you can take to guarantee that you are doing everything in your power to enable you to resolve your matter in as amicable a fashion as is possible.
First, it is important that you review the documents served to you upon your release from custody. Upon being released, you should have been served a Promise to Appear. The Promise to Appear will inform you of when your first court appearance is scheduled for. By accepting the document, perhaps without even realizing it, you have undertaken or “promised” to attend on the date provided to answer to the charges against you. Failing to attend can lead to the acquisition of additional charges. Your promise to appear will also indicate to you under what statute you have been charged and for what specific offence.
Of equal importance will be any date provided on your Promise to Appear for you to complete your requirements under the Identification of Criminals Act. This act requires that all those charged with an offence in Canada provide the requisite authority with their fingerprints and photograph. It is possible that you were printed and photographed prior to your release from custody, however it is not uncommon for the OPP in Hastings County to require that you return to the jurisdiction on a subsequent date, in advance of your first appearance, in order to have your fingerprints and “mug shot” recorded. By accepting the Promise to Appear, you have agreed to comply with the responsibilities imposed upon you, as a person charged criminally in Canada, under the Identification of Criminals Act. Failure to fully comply may result in the acquisition of additional charges.
Your Promise to Appear may not be the only document of relevance served upon or provided to you when you were released from custody. You may have been released on what is known as an Undertaking to an Officer in Charge (Form 11.1). If this is the case, your release from custody was not “unconditional”. You will have to abide by all the conditions in the Undertaking or you risk obtaining additional criminal charges. The Undertaking may limit your ability to attend to certain geographic locations, to refrain from certain conduct, from possessing certain items, from communicating with certain individuals either directly or indirectly, and to report changes in your personal circumstances to the authorities responsible for your release.
It is also possible, dependant upon the allegations against you, that you were served or provided with ancillary documentation as well. This may include documents relating to the impoundment of your vehicle, notification to the Ministry of Transportation, notification to other government entities, orders requiring you to forfeit items in your possession (firearms etc.), and or a notice of increased penalty. It is important that you keep any documentation provided to you upon release. Your exiting custody can be a stressful endeavour, it is important that you do not allow your unease to compromise a successful defence in the future. Remain focused, you are now facing criminal jeopardy, and ensure that you retain as much information and collect all the required documentation the authorities are providing you with.
Once you have been released, it is beneficial that you contact counsel as soon as is practicable. Most criminal lawyers will provide you with a complimentary consultation and the Law Society of Ontario has a referral service you may utilize in order to be matched with a practitioner. All lawyers referred through the Law Society’s service are required to provide a free 30-minute consultation to a prospective client. A lawyer will be able to explain to you the nature of charge(s) and what may have lead to your being taken into custody, they will be able to review and explain any additional documents you received, and to begin to strategize on how to successfully refute the charge(s) or mitigate the damage.
It is beneficial that you retain counsel who is experienced in handling the type(s) of charge you face and with practicing in the jurisdiction. The lawyers at Aitken Robertson regularly appear in Bancroft and practice solely in the field of criminal law. We handle matters in Hastings County through our Belleville office. To book a complimentary 30-minute consultation with a member of our team, either in person or over the phone, please call our office at (613) 771-7260.