In Canada, you are formally charged with a crime after an information is sworn before the court. The information is a document that specifies the charges against you, where the alleged offence crime, and when the alleged crime occurred. Anyone can swear an information, but in order to do so they must go before a justice of the peace or a judge and, under oath, present reasonable grounds for the justice or judge to believe that it is appropriate to charge you with the alleged crime.
Once an information has been laid and you have been formally charged with a criminal offence, your ability to travel, communicate with certain people, or partake in certain activities may be restricted until the conditions imposed on you are changed or the charges are dealt with. If an information has been laid accusing you of an offence, but you have not yet been arrested by the police, a warrant may be issued for your arrest.
However, even when you have been charged with a criminal offence in Canada, you are presumed to be innocent until you are tried and found guilty in a court of law. Unfortunately, notwithstanding this presumption of innocence, you may still be subject to certain conditions until your matter is resolved. For example, you may be released on bail with certain conditions that will restrict your freedom until your charges have been resolved. Alternatively, if you have been charged with a more serious offence, you may be held in custody until your matter is heard before the court, regardless of whether you are innocent or not.
If you or someone you care about has been charged with a criminal offence, it is vital that you seek the assistance of a skilled criminal defence lawyer immediately. We can help you navigate the extremely complex process of addressing and defending your criminal charges. Importantly, we can also make an application for your release on bail if you have been taken into custody, or make an application to change the conditions of your pretrial release so that you can live your life as normally as possible while your matter is being resolved.
Statute of Limitations for Criminal Charges:
In Canada the only charges that have a statute of limitations are summary conviction offences. Unlike indictable offences, charges for a summary conviction offence must be laid within 6 months of the date of the alleged offence. If the 6 month limitation passes, you can no longer be charged for that particular offence. However, be wary of hybrid offences. A hybrid offence gives the Crown Prosecutor the choice to charge you either summarily or by way of indictment. As such, if you are alleged to have commit a hybrid offence more than 6 months ago, the Crown can still charge you by simply electing to proceed by way of indictment as opposed to charging you with a summary conviction offence.
Unlike summary conviction offences, in Canada indictable offences have no statute of limitations. As such, you can be charged with an indictable offence at any time, no matter how long ago you allegedly commit the crime.