Your Guide to Failing to Stop for Police Charges by Criminal Driving Lawyers in Toronto
Table of Contents
- What is Failing to Stop for Police?
- Investigation of Failing to Stop for Police Charges in Toronto
- Bail Process and Conditions for Failing to Stop for Police Charges in Toronto
- Penalties for Failing to Stop for Police Charges in Toronto
- Defending Failing to Stop for Police Charges in Toronto
- What’s Next?
- Failing to Stop for Police FAQs
What is Failing to Stop for Police?
Failing to stop for police is one of several criminal driving charges that can be filed against drivers in Toronto. It is the colloquial term for section 320.17 of the Criminal Code: Flight from peace officer. Failing to stop for police can often be accompanied by other criminal driving charges, such as impaired driving or dangerous driving.
Failing to stop for police is different from charges under the Highway Traffic Act of Ontario (e.g. careless driving) because with a criminal driving charge, the Toronto police will take your photograph and fingerprints and you will have a police file. A conviction for failing to stop for police may result in a criminal record, whereas convictions under the Highway Traffic Act will only appear on your Driver’s Abstract.
The Ontario justice system is staunchly committed to reducing the number of accidents on the roads and takes incidents of failing to stop for police very seriously. The Toronto Police Service is on guard against criminal driving offences.
The relevant provision for failing to stop for police in the Canadian Criminal Code is:
In order to convict you of failing to stop for police, the Crown must prove the following elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt:
- You were operating a motor vehicle, seagoing vessel, aircraft or railway equipment;
- You were pursued by law enforcement;
- You knew you were being pursued; and
- You did not stop your vehicle as soon as was reasonably possible.
In Toronto, this offence usually arises from failing to stop for a Toronto Police Service officer, however peace officers are widely defined in the Criminal Code. You can be charged with failing to stop for the RCMP, Canadian Forces, customs officers, and more.
Investigation of Failing to Stop for Police Charges in Toronto
A failing to stop for police investigation is usually initiated by the peace officer involved. The police will pursue you until they can safely stop you, or they will arrest you at the scene of an accident should one ensue. This offence often arises following high speed chases.
Because many peace officers are vested with powers authorizing arrest, a charge can flow directly from the alleged failure to stop and may rely solely on the statement of the officer. In their investigation, however, the police will likely also consult surveillance camera footage as well as written statements from any witnesses. This evidence will be used in the Crown’s case against you.
The Toronto Police Service takes all criminal driving offences seriously. They are equipped with the largest team of law enforcement officers in Canada to maintain traffic safety in the city. In fact, the Toronto Police is one of the largest municipal forces in North America, with 16 divisions of 5,500 officers. If you are arrested, police will take you to a Police District Office for processing. If you are not present at the scene, police will track you down or issue a warrant for your arrest.
After you have been charged, police will provide a package with all the evidence they collected, known as the “disclosure package,” to the Crown Prosecutor. You will have the right to access this disclosure package to see the evidence against you. Once you retain one of our lawyers, we will assist you in obtaining the disclosure package, and we will review it with you to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the Crown’s case, as well as any legal defences that may be available to you.
Bail Process and Conditions for Failing to Stop for Police Charges in Toronto
How do I get myself or a loved one out on bail for failing to stop for police charges in Toronto?
For most failure to stop for police charges, the police will release you with paperwork to attend court and obtain fingerprinting, and a formal bail hearing will not be necessary.
Where more serious circumstances are involved, such as with repeat offenders or where you caused a serious accident, a formal bail hearing may be necessary to secure your release.
In order to conduct a bail hearing, you will be taken to the Toronto Police Service Division that is responsible for the alleged crime. The bail hearing must be held within 24 hours, a period that starts from the moment of arrest or detention rather than the time when you are brought into the Division.
The phone number for each division is 416-808-[Division Number – 00], so for example, the number for 52 Division is 416-808-5200. The addresses for each Division of the Toronto Police Service can be found here.
Alternatively, you may be held at the Toronto South Detention Centre:
160 Horner Ave
Toronto, ON M8Z 0C2
Loved ones are not able to contact you while you are detained. The police will not release any information to friends or family due to privacy laws. Your lawyer is the only person allowed to contact you. Once the police have verified your lawyer’s details, they will pass on information about your whereabouts, if requested.
Because of these difficulties while you are held in custody, it is best to appoint a competent defence lawyer as soon as possible to manage the legal processes and communicate with loved ones. After an arrest, the police must provide you with the opportunity to call a lawyer in private and, if that happens, stop questioning you.
Once you retain one of our experienced criminal defence lawyers, we will begin working to secure your release on bail. We will immediately do the following:
- Call in to the Division where you are being held in Toronto and speak to you.
- Contact the Prosecutor assigned to the bail hearing to start negotiating your release.
- Order and secure a copy of the police information package that details the allegations against you in advance of the bail hearing. This allows the lawyer to make meaningful representations to the court about why you should be released on bail.
- Conduct either an in-person or teleconference bail hearing to secure your release.
At the time of your bail hearing, you will be transported to the courthouse associated with the particular police division, except for on weekends when Old City Hall holds weekend bail court.
Old City Hall is located at:
60 Queen St W
Toronto, ON M5H 2M3
When you attend your bail hearing, the Judge will consider the following factors:
- Is detention necessary to secure your attendance in court?
- Is detention necessary to protect the public from a substantial risk of re-offence?
- Is detention necessary in all the circumstances to maintain confidence in the administration of justice?
Although it is unlikely that you will be denied bail for this type of charge, tight restrictions may nevertheless be applied to your release, including a driving prohibition.
Rest assured, we will work to not only secure your release but also to ensure the least restrictive set of bail conditions (including the minimum cash deposit).
In order for our lawyers to secure less stringent conditions, the Judge will need to be satisfied that you will attend court as required and that you pose no significant risk of harm to the public. This may be difficult as this type of offence reflects a disregard for law enforcement, however it’s not impossible.
Our lawyers are often successful at persuading the Crown Prosecutor in charge of bail to let our clients out. If we can’t convince the Prosecutor, we can conduct a formal bail hearing and work to convince the Court. Even if you are ultimately detained, we can appeal that decision on very short notice through a bail review, which is conducted at the Ontario Superior Court of Justice.
Where can I pay for bail for failing to stop for police charges in Toronto?
If you or a loved one are charged with failing to stop for police in Toronto and granted bail, you may be required to provide a cash deposit to secure release. The cash deposit can be paid at any bail hearing office (courthouse) in Ontario. If you live in Ottawa, you can pay bail there for someone detained in Toronto.
Bail hearing offices in Toronto are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The simplest way to pay bail is usually to pay it at the courthouse where the bail hearing was held. For instance, at Old City Hall, you can pay the cash deposit at Room 7 on the ground floor. If you are held at the Toronto South Detention Centre, bail can also be paid there.
In Ontario, because of the prevalence of Justices of the Peace and Judges requiring a surety, various bail programs provide an alternative to a surety. The contact number for the Toronto Bail Program is 416-314-3765.
To pay your own bail, you can make a payment after your hearing, assuming you have sufficient funds with you to do so.
How do I change my release conditions for failing to stop for police charges in Toronto?
Release on bail with failure to stop for police charges may require either a surety, cash or no-cash deposit.
Beyond that, you may face tight restrictions, including conditions to refrain from:
- Being behind the wheel of a motor vehicle,
- Staying out beyond a certain time (i.e. curfew),
- Breaking any laws,
- Using drugs or alcohol,
- Possessing weapons,
- Visiting certain places, and/or
The Judge can also impose additional conditions such as:
- Residing where approved,
- Reporting to probation,
- Attending counselling, and/or
- Maintaining or seeking employment.
A variety of factors will be considered when determining your precise restrictions, including:
- Your criminal history,
- Your physical and mental condition,
- The nature of the alleged offence,
- The likelihood that you will flee, and
- Your history of drug/alcohol usage.
If you have already been released, at least for the short term, it is critical that you make arrangements to abide by your conditions until they can be changed. Breaching the terms of your release can result in further charges or a revocation of your bail, as well as a forfeiture of any cash paid to secure your release. It is important to take these conditions seriously.
Once the matter is in court, we can work with the Crown Prosecutor to alter your conditions. This includes either adding exceptions to some of the conditions or eliminating them altogether.
If your court date is far away and you cannot wait until then, we can arrange to have the matter dealt with sooner. Our first priority is always to stabilize your release conditions. That way, you will not feel pressured to plead guilty because of the restrictive terms of your release. Once the conditions are manageable and minimally intrusive to your daily routine, we can focus 100% of our attention on defending the case.
Penalties for Failing to Stop for Police Charges in Toronto
Punishments for a conviction for failing to stop for police depend on a range of factors, and can include both criminal penalties imposed by the Toronto court system as well as a driving suspension.
Failing to stop for police is treated as a hybrid offence in Canada. This means that the Crown can choose to prosecute you summarily or by way of indictment. This decision will depend on the facts of your case, and your punishment will vary based on how the Crown chooses to proceed. Indictment is the more serious of the two.
For a failure to stop for police conviction, you can expect:
- Summary offence: Maximum of two years’ less a day imprisonment;
- Indictment: Maximum of 10 years’ imprisonment.
Some aggravating factors that will increase the likelihood of a harsher punishment are:
- Where you caused bodily harm or death;
- Where you were racing;
- Where there was a passenger under the age of 16 in the vehicle;
- Where you were being paid for operating the vehicle;
- Where you were impaired while operating the vehicle;
- Where you were operating a large motor vehicle; and
- Where you were not permitted to be operating the vehicle.
In addition to the immediate penalties resulting from a conviction for failing to stop for police, it can have wide-ranging negative consequences on your future. You may have difficulties securing employment in the area of your choice, especially in roles that require driving. Furthermore, your insurance rates will almost certainly increase (contact your insurance agency for specifics). One of the most serious long-term consequences is the lifelong criminal record that results from a conviction, which can hinder immigration and travel.
Therefore, even if you intend on accepting responsibility for this type of offence, it is worthwhile to explore your options and consider all the potential penalties. Often, good representation can result in no criminal record. Furthermore, a community-based sentence may be obtained even where the Crown is seeking jail time.
Rest assured, our lawyers will work hard to defend you so that you are not saddled with the consequences that stem from a failure to stop for police conviction. In fact, we can canvass a range of sentencing options with the Prosecutors that will either leave you with no criminal record or impose minimal restrictions on your liberty after sentencing. To learn more about potential non-criminal resolutions, please visit our Resolutions page, or read our FAQ on resolutions and other sentencing options.
Defending Failing to Stop for Police Charges in Toronto
What are the best defences to failing to stop for police charges in Toronto?
The defence that is best for you will depend on the circumstances of your offence. Generally, some of the best defences to failing to stop for police are:
- Violation of constitutional rights: The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms sets out your rights before and after your arrest. If the police fail to abide by these rights, it can aid your defence.
- Reasonable excuse: If you had good reason for evading police, such as a medical emergency, this can help combat a failing to stop for police charge.
- No knowledge: To succeed, the Crown must prove that you knew that you were being pursued by law enforcement. If there were circumstances that impeded you from noticing that the police were trying to stop you, such as poor weather conditions, this can help challenge the requisite mental element of the offence.
We will carefully review the entire police file, which may include expert reports from a traffic reconstructionist, witness statements, collision reports, photographs, and other documents pertaining to your case.
We will listen to your version of events, paying special attention to any evidence that bears on the following key issues:
- Did the police deploy all possible methods of getting your attention?
- Did the officers who claim you fled from them make detailed and accurate notes of your driving?
- Did the police video record your driving pattern? Is it consistent with their reports?
- Did you have a reasonable excuse for not stopping the vehicle (e.g. medical emergency)?
- Were there circumstances that prevented you from noticing the police were trying to get you to stop (e.g. hearing problems)?
There are other successful defence strategies that our experienced defence lawyers can take against failing to stop for police charges. Our team of lawyers will conduct a thorough review of the circumstances of your case, in order to decide what defences are available to you.
How can I help defend failing to stop for police charges in Toronto?
If you have been charged with failing to stop for police, the following actions can help your lawyer build a strong defence:
- Make a statement about what happened;
- Have passengers write down their observations of what happened;
- Collect and maintain all documents and records about the event;
- Gather any photographic evidence that you may have; and
- Log any relevant texts, emails or phone calls.
As soon as you are released on bail, you should start to gather information that may be of use to your lawyer. If you are uncertain what information may be relevant, contact one of our lawyers immediately to create a plan of action.
If you are truly proactive about the matter, consider doing the following:
- Secure proof of employment,
- Secure reference letters,
- Enroll in counselling (e.g. alcohol or drug rehabilitation),
- Secure a record of prescriptions, and
- Secure a record of any mental health conditions you suffer from.
These steps can be very helpful in building an effective defence (or convincing the Prosecutor to drop the charges altogether).
What can a lawyer do to help me defend against failing to stop for police charges in Toronto?
As we start preparing your defence by examining police actions and the evidence against you, there are certain defence strategies that can be used to aid your cause. Some of these include:
- Assembling documents, photos, texts, etc. that contradict the allegation and support your version of events;
- Identifying mistakes in the actions of the police, such as Charter breaches; and
- Uncovering administrative/systemic errors, such as “Jordan delay,” non-disclosure, lost or destroyed evidence, etc.
Our experienced defence lawyers will use the most effective defence against the charges according to the precise circumstances of your case. Even if the charges proceed and you are found guilty, a good lawyer can significantly reduce the severity of the consequences for you.
Most of the information above relates to simple failing to stop for police charges, which can become increasingly complex and fact-specific depending on the circumstances of your case.
We have tried our best to provide a general outline of what you can expect if you find yourself in this situation, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.
To learn more about how we can help, please contact our team of Criminal Driving Lawyers. We will conduct a thorough review of your situation and tailor a precise strategy that targets your successful defence.
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