Resisting Arrest Charges in Ontario
Even if you know you are innocent, it is a criminal offence to resist arrest in Ontario.
A lifelong criminal record and all the potential hardships that accompany it is a high price to pay for a momentary loss of temper or patience with a police officer.
It’s always best to remain calm and collected and to follow instructions from law enforcement.
However, if you are accused of resisting arrest, do not say anything that may worsen the situation. Seek immediate legal advice. At Friedman Mansour LLP, our lawyers are experienced at helping people in this difficult situation.
What is resisting arrest?
Resisting arrest is known as an administration of justice offence. Similar offences include obstructing a peace officer or assaulting a peace officer.
It involves physically resisting a peace officer who, in the course of duty, is trying to detain or arrest you.
The Criminal Code of Canada states that the crime of resisting arrest applies to:
Every one who
- (a) resists or wilfully obstructs a public officer or peace officer in the execution of his duty or any person lawfully acting in aid of such an officer,
- (b) omits, without reasonable excuse, to assist a public officer or peace officer in the execution of his duty in arresting a person or in preserving the peace, after having reasonable notice that he is required to do so, or
- (c) resists or wilfully obstructs any person in the lawful execution of a process against lands or goods or in making a lawful distress or seizure,
People are frequently confused by two elements of this crime: what constitutes resistance and what is a peace officer?
Although resisting arrest is a lesser offence than obstructing or assaulting a peace officer, a conviction still generally requires active resistance rather than simply staying silent and remaining passive and uncooperative.
Peace officers are considered to be the following individuals:
- Police officers
- Canadian Forces officers
- Customs officers
- Wardens, etc.
Resisting arrest can be treated harshly because those accused of it are already suspected of committing another crime. Also, they are accused of impeding an officer while performing a lawful duty, which is never viewed favourably by the criminal justice system in Ottawa.
You can therefore expect a full investigation if you are accused of this crime.
What is resisting arrest Section 270 in Ontario?
Section 270(1)(b) of the criminal code makes special provisions concerning resisting arrest for shoplifting.
When a scuffle occurs between an accused shoplifter and store security (often undercover in plain clothing), law enforcement may charge you with this offence in addition to the shoplifting charge.
Section 270 covers “persons” carrying out a lawful arrest” rather than simply peace officers – so this includes security guards in stores.
A conviction for both offences (shoplifting and resisting arrest) may convince a judge to order a jail sentence, especially if bodily injury was caused to the security guard.
Depending on the nature of the incident, it could be charged as resisting arrest or assaulting a peace officer and Crown Prosecutors may seek a criminal record, fines, a suspended sentence or even jail.
Obtaining the legal support of an experienced criminal defence lawyer is essential in such cases.
What is the bail process for resisting arrest charges?
For a charge of resisting arrest, the Ottawa police may let you go on a release order issued at the scene.
You will receive a Promise to Appear document, which may contain conditions of release as well as outlining your charges and detailing when you will need to appear in court.
Those with a criminal record or particularly serious allegations against them may require a bail hearing, which will be held within 24 hours.
During this time, when contact opportunities with loved ones are limited, it helps to have the guidance and support of a criminal defence lawyer to walk you through the steps and keep your family informed.
It is unlikely that you will be denied bail for resisting arrest but restrictions may be imposed and you will need to follow them until your case is resolved.
Bail can be paid at the Ottawa courthouse:
161 Elgin St 2nd floor
ON K2P 2K1
What are the penalties for resisting arrest in Ottawa?
According to the Criminal Code, resisting arrest can be prosecuted as either a summary or indictable offence.
A standard (summary) resisting arrest conviction can potentially result in:
- A jail sentence of up to two years
- Up to three years of probation
- A fine (several thousand dollars)
- A ban on owning/possessing weapons for up to 10 years
If it is your first offence, it is unlikely you will serve jail time. Available alternatives include a discharge, which is a finding of guilt without a criminal conviction. Other alternatives include fines and probation.
However, these more favourable options may not be considered by the court if you are found to have used significant force while resisting arrest or you were suspected of carrying out actions for a criminal organization.
Longer-term, a criminal conviction for resisting arrest can impact employment, travel, immigration status and other areas of your life. Unfortunately, the resulting lifelong criminal record will follow you around wherever you go.
It should be a priority to work with an experienced lawyer to prevent these possible outcomes.
What are the best defences to resisting arrest charges in Ottawa?
After you are charged with resisting arrest, the police will provide a “disclosure package” to the prosecutor. This contains the evidence against you, which you have the right to access.
We will assist you in gaining this access. Then we will review the evidence and look for weaknesses in the Crown’s case.
Generally speaking, your defence will be built around one of the following arguments:
- No knowledge that the arresting party was a peace officer: To be convicted of resisting arrest, you must have been aware that a peace or public officer was attempting an arrest. In the case of an un-uniformed officer or an officer who did not identify themselves, this may be a valid defence.
- Lack of intent: you did not intend to resist the peace officer – your actions were unintentional.
- Mistaken identity: usually, resisting arrest charges are made at the scene but in some cases, where a defendant is identified by surveillance footage (and the footage is poor quality) you may have a legitimate defence if you have a good alibi.
- Unlawful arrest: The arrest must be lawful to secure a conviction. If a peace officer oversteps their authority or does not identify why they are making the arrest, you do not have to comply and should not have been charged.
- Violation of constitutional rights: the arresting officer must abide by your rights under the Canadian Charter or the evidence they gather may be inadmissible.
Remember, to obtain a conviction, the Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you intentionally resisted an officer engaged in a lawful arrest.
With our experience in defending such charges, we can make it difficult for the prosecution and increase the likelihood that you will avoid the harsh penalties outlined.
Friedman Mansour LLP for resisting arrest charges in Ontario
At the time of the attempted arrest, it may appear to you that you did little wrong. Suddenly, you are facing resisting arrest charges.
Situations can escalate in the heat of the moment, and you shouldn’t have to pay for that for the rest of your life.
At Friedman Mansour LLP in Ottawa, our skilled criminal lawyers can protect your rights and freedoms and defend you against your resisting arrest charge. Contact us online for a free case evaluation or call us at (613) 223-4089.
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