Legal Studies 3080

Apprehending a Suspect and Laying Charges

If the police intend to lay charges against you, they must consider how to go about it, keeping the best interests of the public in mind. They can go about the task in one of three ways:

    • by serving you with an appearance notice,
    • by serving you with a summons, or
    • by arresting you.

The Appearance Notice

The first option open to the police is simply to give you an appearance notice. This is done when the offence is relatively minor - for summary conviction, hybrid, and less serious indictable offences. The officer simply writes out, on the spot, a notice identifying the offence and giving the date, time, and place where you should appear. As a suspect you are required to sign the notice and you will be given a copy of it. After that, the police officer must swear an information before a justice of the peace to the effect that he or she has probable grounds to suspect you of having committed a specific offence.


The Summons

The second option the police have is to give you a summons . A summons is a court order directing you to appear in court at a specific time and date. To issue a summons, the police officer must first swear an information before a justice of the peace, and a summons will be issued only if the justice is convinced that there are reasonable and probable grounds for suspecting you of having committed the offence stated. If you fail to show up when you are required to on your summons, the court will likely issue a warrant for your arrest, which will allow the police to apprehend and arrest you.

The Arrest

The final option available to the police is to arrest you. This process is used when the crime is serious (usually when it is indictable) and it seems important to apprehend the suspect immediately. In order to arrest you, a police officer must:

    • identify him - or herself,
    • explain to you that you are under arrest,
    • inform you of the charge against you, and
    • inform you of your right to a lawyer.