Failing to Stop at Scene of an Accident Lawyers in Edmonton

What is a Failing to Stop after an Accident Charge?

Failing to stop after an accident is one of several criminal driving charges that can be filed against drivers in Edmonton. This offence is frequently laid alongside other allegations related to your driving, including:

Failing to stop after an accident is different from charges under Alberta’s Traffic Safety Act (the “TSA”) because with a failing to stop after an accident charge, the police or RCMP will take your photograph and fingerprints and you will have a police file. A conviction for failing to stop after an accident may result in a criminal record, whereas convictions under the TSA will only appear on your driver’s abstract.

Edmonton Police Service take failing to stop at an accident offences seriously. Accidents often involve injuries that require medical attention. In instances where the accused has fled the scene, this can result in more serious injuries which will in turn increase the penalties you face.

The relevant provision for failing to after an accident in the Code is:

Failure to stop after accident

320.16 (1) Everyone commits an offence who operates a conveyance and who at the time of operating the conveyance knows that, or is reckless as to whether, the conveyance has been involved in an accident with a person or another conveyance and who fails, without reasonable excuse, to stop the conveyance, give their name and address and, if any person has been injured or appears to require assistance, offer assistance.

In order to convict you of failing to stop after an accident, the Crown must prove the following elements of the offence beyond a reasonable doubt:

  • You drove or had the care or control of a motor vehicle;
  • That vehicle was involved in an accident with another person, another vehicle, or livestock;
  • You failed to stop your vehicle;
  • You did not give your name and address;
  • You did not offer help to anyone who was injured and needed it; and
  • You failed to stop because you did not want to get in legal trouble.

It is important to know that the Crown is not required to prove that you were the one who caused the collision or is otherwise at fault.

Investigation of Failing to Stop after an Accident Charges in Edmonton

A failing to stop after an accident investigation is usually initiated by the victim of the accident. They contact the Edmonton Police Service and report it. The police will request a statement from the complainant and any witnesses, then they will launch an investigation.

After the police have gathered their evidence, they will arrest you if they believe you are the perpetrator. As you have fled the scene, the police will track you down or issue a warrant for your arrest. After you are arrested, police will take you to a police detachment for processing.

Once you have been charged, police will provide a package with all of 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 after an Accident Charges in Edmonton

How do I get myself or a loved one out on bail for failing to stop after an accident charges in Edmonton?

For most failing to stop after an accident incidents it is not unusual for police to release you. Police will provide you with an Appearance Notice document outlining your charges, and any appearances you must make.

If the police feel that your circumstances require more onerous conditions they may require you to sign an Undertaking.

This document will outline your charges and include any specific conditions you must follow, including being prohibited from:

  • Leaving the province;
  • Alcohol consumption; and/or
  • Communication with specific individuals.

If this is your second or subsequent offence, or if the circumstances are more serious, a formal bail hearing may be necessary to secure your release. 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 to the district office or courthouse.

In order to conduct a bail hearing, you will be transferred from the district office to the Arrest Processing Unit in the basement of the Edmonton Police Headquarters.

Edmonton Police Service Headquarters is located downtown at:

Edmonton Police Service Headquarters
9620 103a Ave NW
Edmonton, AB T5H 0H7
Tel: 780-423-4567

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:

  1. Call into the Arrest Processing Unit in Edmonton and speak to you.
  2. Contact the prosecutor assigned to the bail hearing to start negotiating your release.
  3. 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.
  4. Conduct either an in-person or teleconference bail hearing to secure your release.

When you attend your bail hearing, the judge will consider:

  • 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 failing to stop after an accident, tight restrictions may nevertheless be applied to your release.

Rest assured, we will work to not only secure your release but also ensure the least restrictive set of bail conditions (including the minimum cash deposit) possible.

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 sometimes be difficult in a failing to stop after an accident case, but 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. Such reviews are conducted at the Court of King’s Bench of Alberta.

Where can I pay for bail for failing to stop after accident charges in Edmonton?

If you or a loved one are charged with failing to stop after an accident in Edmonton and granted bail, you may be required to provide a cash deposit to secure release. The cash deposit can be paid at any courthouse in Alberta. Even if you live in Calgary, you can pay bail there for someone detained in Edmonton.

Bail hearing offices in Edmonton are open from 8 a.m. until midnight, seven days a week.

The Edmonton Bail Hearing Office is located at:

Brownlee Building
10365 97 Street NW
Edmonton, AB T4J 3W7
Tel: 780-422-3699

You can also make a bail payment 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at the Edmonton Remand Centre:

Edmonton Remand Centre
18415 127 Street NW
Edmonton, AB T6V 1B1
Tel: 780-638-5100

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 at an accident charges in Edmonton?

Release on bail with failing to stop after an accident charges will almost always require a surety, cash, or no-cash deposit.

Furthermore, you can expect tight restrictions, including conditions to refrain from:

  • Leaving your house (i.e. house arrest);
  • Staying out beyond a certain time (i.e. curfew);
  • Breaking any laws;
  • Using drugs or alcohol;
  • Possessing weapons;
  • Possessing firearms;
  • Visiting certain places; and/or
  • Travelling.

The judge may 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;
  • Your history of drug/alcohol usage;
  • The nature of the alleged offence;
  • The likelihood that you will flee;
  • Whether you have stable employment;
  • Whether you have stable living arrangements; and
  • Whether you have ties to the community.

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 at an Accident Charges in Edmonton

Punishments for a conviction for failing to stop after an accident depend on a range of factors, and can include both criminal penalties and a driving suspension or fines imposed under the provincial TSA. It is important to note that this page addresses criminal penalties imposed by the Code and does not include additional penalties you may face provincially under the TSA.

Failing to stop after an accident 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 after an accident conviction, you can expect:

  • Summary: Up to 2 years less a day imprisonment, a $5,000 fine or both;
  • Indictment: Up to 10 years’ imprisonment.

Where the accident caused bodily harm, the penalties increase:

  • Summary: Up to 2 years less a day imprisonment, a $5,000 fine or both;
  • Indictment: Up to 14 years’ imprisonment.
  • First Offence: Minimum penalty of $1,000 fine;
  • Second Offence: Minimum penalty of 30 days’ imprisonment; and
  • Each Subsequent Offence: Minimum penalty of 120 days’ imprisonment.

Failing to stop after an accident where a death has occurred is a strictly indictable offence with a maximum punishment of imprisonment for life, and:

  • First Offence: Minimum penalty of $1,000 fine;
  • Second Offence: Minimum penalty of 30 days’ imprisonment; and
  • Each Subsequent Offence: Minimum penalty of 120 days’ imprisonment.

Aggravating factors that will increase the likelihood of a harsher punishment include situations where:

  • The offence caused bodily harm or death to more than one person;
  • The offender was racing at least one other person;
  • There was a passenger under the age of 16 in the vehicle;
  • The offender was being paid for operating the vehicle;
  • The offender was impaired while operating the vehicle;
  • The offender was operating a large motor vehicle; and
  • The offender was not permitted to be operating the vehicle.

The penalties resulting from a conviction for a failing to stop after an accident charge 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 more serious long-term consequences is a lifelong criminal record, which can hinder immigration and travel.

For these reasons, even if you intend on accepting responsibility for this offence, it is worthwhile to explore your options and consider all of 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 failing to stop after an accident 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.

edmonton failing to stop at accident

Defending Failing to Stop after an Accident Charges in Edmonton

What are the best defences to failing to stop after an accident charges in Edmonton?

The defence that is best for you will depend on the circumstances surrounding the offence.

Generally, some of the best defences to failing to stop after an accident are:

  • Reasonable Excuse: If you had good reason for leaving the scene, such as a medical emergency or fear for your personal safety, this can help combat a failing to stop for police charge.
  • No Knowledge: For the Crown to succeed in charging you with failure to stop after an accident, they must prove that you knew that an accident occurred. If there were circumstances that impeded you from noticing that an accident occurred, this can help challenge the requisite mental element of the offence.
  • Violation of Constitutional Rights: The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (the “Charter”) sets out your rights before and after your arrest. If the police fail to abide by these rights, it can aid your defence.

As experienced criminal driving lawyers, 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. Our team 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 after an accident charges in Edmonton?

If you have been charged with failing to stop after an accident, the following actions can help your lawyer build a strong defence:

  • Take detailed notes about your version of events to provide to your lawyer;
  • 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.

To be 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 after an accident charges in Edmonton?

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 dedicated lawyer can significantly reduce the severity of the consequences for you.

Further Reading

Below are a few notable cases dealing with various aspects of failing to stop after an accident charges:

In R v Wells, 2020 ONCJ 294 the accused was charged with failing to stop after an accident. At issue was whether the accused could successfully use the defence of reasonable excuse. The alleged victim was riding his bicycle when the accused pulled out of a driveway almost hitting him. Upset, the victim then followed the vehicle, biked up beside him and punched the driver’s side mirror intending to damage it. The accused then swerved left causing the victim to be knocked to the ground. When the accused stopped his car and rolled down the window the victim punched the accused in the face. The accused then drove off. The court determined that the accused had reasonable fear of personal harm which justified him driving away. He reported the accident within 90 minutes to a nearby police station further satisfying the court of his intent to protect himself. The accused was found not guilty.

In R v Basra, 2015 BCSC 1075, the accused was charged with failing to stop after an accident resulting in death. At issue was whether the accused knew or was willfully blind that he had hit a person the night the event occurred, which would have required him to stop. The accused was driving late at night to take his date home. He was not drinking or speeding however while driving, himself and the passenger heard a loud thud and then saw a hole in the windshield. He stated he did not see what hit the car and was concerned a rock had been thrown at them. They continued driving but stopped a short while later as the damage to the windshield was too significant to drive on the highway safely. They observed there was substantial damage to the front of the car but did not return to the scene. The court determined that given the initial impact, the accused had a duty to investigate what he had hit and failed to do so. He was found guilty.

What’s Next?

Most of the information above relates to simply failing to stop after an accident charge, 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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