Legal Studies 3080

Release Procedures

Suppose that you have been arrested, taken to the police station, searched, fingerprinted, and photographed (if it is an indictable offence), and questioned, with a lawyer present if you wish - always a good idea. What happens next? Can the police toss you into a cell until your trial comes up, perhaps several months down the road?

Fortunately, things do not work that way. The Criminal Code requires the police to follow certain procedures, and the Charter protects your rights in this situation just as it does when you are being arrested. The fact is that the majority of people who are arrested are not locked up; rather, they are released on certain conditions, as you will see shortly, until they have to appear in court.
Of course, the cases the new media report normally involve violent crimes, and in those situations the people arrested are usually locked up for the protection of society. That is why you are probably used to thinking of suspects in criminal cases being marched briskly off to jail.

  • Bail: money held to guarantee that an accused will appear at a later hearing.

  • Undertaking: a court document containing conditions an accused agrees to upon release, pending a hearing.

  • Recognizance: a court document stating that an accused understands that he or she is accused of a crime and that he or she must attend court.

  • Writ of habeas corpus : a court document demanding that the Crown show why an accused is being held.