There are three main types of breaches you may be charged with:
Breach of Recognizance or Undertaking;
Breach of Probation; or
Breach of Conditional Sentence Order
Each type of breach is different and carries with it very different consequences. It is therefore important to properly identify the type of breach alleged.
Breach & Failure to Comply
A breach or a failure to comply charges can be laid by police if you do not meet the requirement of your probation order or bail conditions. Any time that you are released from custody or given conditions as part of a sentence, police have the discretion to charge you with a criminal offence if you do not meet them. A breach may also arise from breaking conditions of a peace bond or recognizance.
Breach of Recognizance
A Breach of Recognizance or Undertaking refers to a breach of conditions of release. This may occur when you are still out on bail on charges that have not yet been resolved, and you have been accused of breaching the terms of your release. These beaches also include charges for Failing to Appear in Court, and Failing to Appear for Identification. A particularly damaging consequence of this type of charge is that you may lose the bail money you put up on your substantive charges. A conviction for this offence also carries its own penalties and will be registered on your criminal record.
Breach of Probation
A Breach of Probation refers to a breach of conditions of sentence. This occurs once you have completed a matter and have been placed on probation as punishment for the underlying offence. A finding of guilt for this offence will usually result in a conviction being registered on your criminal record and a fine or jail sentence being imposed. In rare cases, you may be re-sentenced on the original charges for which you had received probation.
Breach of Conditional Sentence Order
A Breach of a Conditional Sentence Order refers to a breach of conditions of a house arrest sentence. Unlike a Breach of Probation, a finding that you have in fact breached the conditions does not result in a criminal record. However, a finding that one of the conditions has been breach creates a significant risk that you will spend the rest of the house arrest sentence in actual jail. Moreover, until the matter is decided, your house arrest sentence is suspended, and the duration of the sentence is in effect extended even longer. This type of breach will likely have the most serious implications for you and should be taken very seriously.
Breach Offence Charge
In order to uphold the integrity of the justice system and ensure the rule of law, the government has made it a criminal offence to breach most types of court orders and release documents issued in the context of criminal proceedings.
These orders can come in many forms, including:
Promise to Appear
Undertakings to an Officer in Charge
Undertaking to a Justice
Emergency Protection Orders
Conditional Sentence Orders
As you might expect, Judges do not treat people who are alleged to have breached a court order made by one of their fellow judges lightly. This seriousness is demonstrated at all stages of your criminal case. Our criminal defence lawyers have the skills to help you defend against an allegation that you breached a court order.
Some of the most common breaches of court orders we deal with are:
No contact with a victim or witness involved in your case;
Not to possess or consume alcohol;
Not possess any weapons;
Being out past Curfew;
Not leave the Province of Alberta;
Not attend a certain residence or city;
Failure to attend for fingerprints;
Failure to appear for court;
Fail to attend to a probation officer;
Fail to take treatment or counselling under a probation order; and
Not be found behind the wheel of a motor vehicle
Bail Conditions for Breach Offences
The first point at which you will witness the seriousness of this allegation is when it comes to the “bail” stage, when the police and/or Justice of the Peace decide whether or not you will be released from custody while your charge winds through the court system.
It takes special skill to convince a police officer or Justice to release you when you are alleged to have breached a court order, because the allegation already demonstrates that you may not obey any conditions if you are re-released.
Based on your case, we may be able to develop a defence to the charge centering on one or more of the following issues:
Was the court order actually in force at the time of the alleged offence?
Did you have a good reason for breaching the order?
Did your conduct actually amount to a breach?
Was the order so confusing or vague that it is not possible to determine if you breached or not?
Are there any issues with the truthfulness or accuracy of the Crown’s witnesses to the alleged breach?
Changing your court order
If you are currently subject to a court order that is causing you excessive hardship, contact us immediately. We can help!
Depending on the specifics of your case, we may be able to have the problematic condition amended to allow exceptions, narrow it down, make it more flexible, or have it deleted altogether.
Achieving this requires a confident, trustworthy advocate on your side. We are skilled at negotiating changes to court orders with the prosecuting lawyer, and where that fails, we can apply to a judge.
Before the judge or prosecutor will agree to the change, they must be convinced that changing or removing the conditions will not compromise the safety of the alleged victims or witnesses on your case, or give you an opportunity to re-offend. Proving to them that requires sensitivity, truthfulness, and convincing legal submissions. Our Calgary-based criminal lawyers bring all those skills to your case.
A conviction for breach of a court order will have a significant impact on your ability to get bail if you are ever alleged of a crime in the future. Do not make the decision to plead guilty lightly. Let us help. We will review the Crown’s case against you and your side of the story, and together we may be able to help you beat the charge.
If you are found guilty after a trial, or wish to plead guilty to minimize the damage, we can help! We may be able to negotiate a guilty plea to a non-criminal offence, or arrange for out-of-court resolution of your charge.
The maximum punishment for breaching most court orders is 2 years in jail, and/or a period of probation of up to 3 years, and/or a fine of several thousand dollars.
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