Undertaking to Peace Officers – What Are They and What Legal Implications Arise?Andrew Captan
Criminal Lawyers are well aware of what an Undertaking to a Peace Officer is, and what legal implications they have, but not all individuals who sign them have the same appreciation of the document. These documents carry significant legal importance and are usually one of the few things a Criminal Lawyer will review.
In short, an Undertaking to a Peace Officer is a type of release that the Police place an accused. By signing an Undertaking, the accused agrees to be bound by certain conditions and to appear for a court date and potentially a fingerprint date.
What law authorizes these documents?
Section 499 of the Criminal Code of Canada authorizes police officers to release people charged with crimes on an Undertaking.
What types of conditions can be included on an Undertaking?
Section 501(3) of the Criminal Code states the following: “The undertaking may contain one or more of the following conditions, if the condition is reasonable in the circumstances of the offence and necessary, to ensure the accused’s attendance in court or the safety and security of any victim of or witness to the offence, or to prevent the continuation or repetition of the offence or the commission of another offence:
(g) reside at a specified address, be at that address at specified hours and present themselves at the entrance of that residence to a peace officer or other specified person, at the officer’s or specified person’s request during those hours;
(h) abstain from possessing a firearm, cross-bow, prohibited weapon, restricted weapon, prohibited device, ammunition, prohibited ammunition or explosive substance, and surrender those that are in their possession to the peace officer or other specified person and also any authorization, licence or registration certificate or other document enabling them to acquire or possess them;
(j) deposit, with the peace officer specified in the undertaking, money or other valuable security whose value does not exceed $500 if, at the time of giving the undertaking, the accused is not ordinarily resident in the province or does not ordinarily reside within 200 kilometres of the place in which they are in custody; and
What happens if I violate a condition?
It is a criminal offence, under s. 145(4) of the Criminal Code, to violate a condition of an undertaking. There is a possibility that the police, after a fail to comply charge, may exercise their discretion to hold the accused person for a bail hearing, rather than release them on conditions.
My undertaking has two dates on it – what’s the other one besides my court date?
It is important to review your undertaking with your Criminal Lawyer, but usually the other date will be your fingerprint / photograph date. That date will be preceded by text that refers to the Identification of Criminals Act.
What happens if I miss my court date or fingerprint date?
Missing either date could lead to additional charges against you for Failure to Attend, which is treated as a fairly serious criminal charge. It is not uncommon for Crown Attorneys to seek jail time for these types of charges.
For more information about Undertakings to Peace Officers, or for a consultation to have yours reviewed, call Andrew Captan – Criminal Lawyer at (647) 878 – 6355.