Have you been charged with an offence and are required to attend to court in Huntsville, Ontario? If so, there are initial steps you can take to make sure that you are doing all that you can to ensure yourself the best opportunity to remedy your charge(s) in as favourable a manner as the situation allows.
Your Release Documents: Read Them Carefully
It is crucial that you examine the documents served upon you when you were released from custody. Your release from custody likely would have required that you were served a Summons, Notice, or Promise to Appear. This document will indicate when you are first obliged to appear in court. You are required to attend on the stated date. Failing to attend can lead to the acquisition of additional charges. This document will also indicate to you the specific statute you have allegedly violated as well as the alleged infraction.
Your release documents may also provide a date for you to re-attend to the police station or courthouse to comply with your obligations under the Identification of Criminals Act. This act necessitates that those charged with a criminal offence in Canada attend for their fingerprints and photograph. If your matter is resolved without the registering of a criminal conviction, and you do not possess a criminal record, you may be able to apply for your prints and photo to be destroyed once your matter is completed and any other prerequisites have been satisfied. It is possible that the requirements of the Identification of Criminals Act were dispensed with prior to your release from custody, however it is not out of the ordinary for the OPP in Muskoka Region to order that you return to provide your fingerprints and “mug shot” on a date prior to your first appearance date. Failure to attend to court or to provide “identification” as is directed by your documents of release may result in the acquisition of additional charges.
Your Release, Even If Not on Bail, May be Conditional
Your release documents may not be the only documents involved in your discharge from custody. Your release may have been predicated by an Undertaking to an Officer in Charge (Form 11.1). If this is the case, your release from custody was not “unconditional”. If you fail to adhere to the requirements of an “Undertaking,” you are risking being charged further. Your release may be conditioned by limitations such as: restricting where you may attend or reside, restraining your conduct, preventing you from possessing certain items, dictating that you may not communicate with certain individuals either directly or indirectly, and requiring that you report changes in your personal circumstances to the authorities responsible for your release etc.
Depending on the charges you face, you may have left custody after having been served ancillary documentation as well. These documents may not directly relate your release but may relate to the impoundment of your vehicle or to the Ministry of Transportation. It is also possible that you may have been provided with documents from an additional government agency or a demand for you to forfeit or informing you of the forfeiture of items in your possession, and or a notice of increased penalty. You should retain any documentation provided to you upon your release.
Defending the Allegations
Your being criminally charged is an understandably stressful period in your life. As you are now facing the jeopardy of acquiring a criminal record, you will need to begin to defend yourself. Upon your release, it is beneficial that you contact a lawyer as soon as you can do so. Most counsel who handle criminal matters will offer you a complimentary consultation. As well, the Law Society of Ontario has a referral service that can match your specific needs with local counsel. All lawyers referred through this service have committed to providing a free 30-minute consultation to a referred person. A lawyer will be able to go over your charge(s) and answer any resultant questions your may have. Competent counsel will review the documents you received and will answer any questions you may have. Once retained, a lawyer will assist you in planning your defence.
You may find it useful to retain a lawyer who is experienced in handling the type(s) of charge(s) you face and who is familiar with working in the region. Aitken Robertson routinely appears in the Huntsville court and our lawyers only practice in the area of criminal law. To schedule a complimentary 30-minute consultation with a member of the AR team, either in person or over the phone, please call our office at 1-800-668-1657.