What should I do after I have been arrested?

By Last Updated: March 16, 2022

After you are arrested you should write down everything that happened in as much detail as possible. This will help you to remember the events surrounding your arrest when you go to trial, and it will also help to ensure that no important details are missed when you are reviewing your matter with your criminal defence lawyer.

If you were arrested and released, you may have been given a promise to appear, an appearance notice, an undertaking to a police officer, an undertaking given to a justice or judge, or a document indicating that you were released on your own recognizance. These documents are very important because they specify where and when you must attend court to address your charges. A failure to appear in court on the date specified by the police can lead to your being charged with a Failure to Appear,  another criminal offence under s.145(5) of the Criminal Code.

Appearance Notice (Form 9 under the Criminal Code)

An appearance notice is a form that is filled out by a police officer after an arrest and that is provided to the person who was arrested and is being released. The form will indicate the date and place of the person’s first court appearance. It will also state whether the person must attend for fingerprinting and where and when they must do so. Typically, you will receive this form when you are arrested and released without being brought back to the police station for processing.

Promise to Appear (Form 10 under the Criminal Code)

A promise to appear is what a person will typically receive after they have been arrested, processed at the police station, and released. The appearance notice will specify what they have been charged with and where and when they are required to be in court for their first court appearance. If applicable, it will also indicate that they must attend the police station for fingerprinting and when they must do so.

Undertaking to a Police officer (form 11.1 under the Criminal Code)

An undertaking to a peace officer is another form that a person will receive after being arrested, processed at the police station, and released. The undertaking will indicate what the person has been charged with, as well as specific conditions they must follow upon their release. These conditions may restrict the ability of the person to travel or go to a particular area, or restrict him or her from possessing weapons, consuming drugs, or communicating with specific people. A failure to comply with the terms outlined in the undertaking will lead to the accused being charged with a criminal offence under section 145(5) and (6) of the Criminal Code. However, if there are compelling reasons to do so, an application under section 499(3) of the Criminal Code can be made by your lawyer to vary the conditions of the undertaking.

Recognizance Entered into Before an Officer in Charge or Other Peace Officer (form 11 under the Criminal Code)

When you are charged with a crime and arrested, you can be released on a recognizance instead of being held in custody until your matter is resolved before the court. A recognizance is essentially a written acknowledgment or promise to appear before the court as directed. There will be certain conditions with which you will have to comply while released on the recognizance. If you breach those conditions, you may have to forfeit a sum of money specified in the recognizance and you will be charged with a breach of recognizance, another criminal offence under the Criminal Code.

Undertaking given to a Justice or a Judge (form 12 under the Criminal Code)

If you have been arrested and brought before the court, an Undertaking given to a Justice or a Judge is a form of release that you will receive when the judge decides to grant you bail. After assenting to this undertaking, you are bound to return before the court on the date, time, and place stipulated by the Judge. The undertaking will indicate the offence with which you have been charged, as well as the time and place of your next appearance. It will also outline the conditions with which you are expected to comply until your matter is brought before the court again. A failure to comply with these conditions, or a failure to appear in court as required, will result in your receiving a new criminal charge. It may also result in your being placed back in custody and held there until your matter is resolved.

Recognizance (form 32 under the Criminal Code)

A recognizance is a form of release that you can receive after a judge has granted you bail. The form typically specifies a cash deposit that will be forfeited in the event that you breach the conditions of your release. The form will specify the conditions of your release, as well as the date, time, and place you are to return for your next court appearance. As with other forms of release, if you breach the conditions stipulated in this form, you will not only lose your cash deposit, but will be charged with a new criminal offence for breaching the terms of your recognizance.

No matter the form of your post-arrest release, ensure that you comply with the conditions stipulated in the documents that you were given. If you lose those documents, you can call the criminal court clerk at the courthouse to find out the date, time, and place of your next appearance. Alternatively, you can, and should, call one of our criminal defence lawyers after you have been arrested. We can help you confirm the date, time, and place of your next appearance, make an application for your release if you are being held in custody, or, if needed, make an application to change the conditions of your release.

About The Author

Michael Oykhman

Managing Partner

Michael Oykhman is a senior lawyer and founder of Strategic Criminal Defence, a full-service criminal law firm with central law offices across Western Canada and Ontario.

My professional experience consists of countless court appearances and thousands of successful defences and satisfied clients. Over the last 10 years, I have worked to build a law office where all the lawyers share our collective experience, resources, and passion to help people. Our team approach to legal representation is client–rather than only law–centred. We look for opportunities to add value to our clients through strategic thinking and creative solutions.

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