In situations where you are being charged with a crime, it is important that you know what your rights are. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (‘The Charter’) provides individuals with many rights which you should be familiar with:
S.8 of the Charter provides that everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.
S.9 of the Charter provides that everyone has the right not to be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned.
S.10 of the Charter provides that everyone has the right on arrest or detention
- to be informed promptly of the reasons therefore;
- to retain and instruct counsel without delay and to be informed of that right; and
- to have the validity of the detention determined by way of habeas corpus and to be released if the detention is not lawful.
An information document sets out the criminal charge and is used throughout the Provincial Court to track the progress of your case. For indictable offences which will be tried in the Superior Court, the Crown will file an indictment with that court once the Provincial Court is finished dealing with that matter. These information documents and indictments can contain multiple charges, or counts, and are able to charge multiple accused.
In Canada, in order to be officially charged with a crime, this information needs to be sworn before the Court. An information is usually completed by a police officer; however, anyone is able to swear an information as long as it is done before a Justice of the Peace or a Judge, under oath and on reasonable grounds to do so. Once this information document is sworn before the court you are formally charged with a crime. If the information has been sworn, but you have not been arrested, a warrant may also be issued for your arrest.
It is important to know that although you may have been officially charged with a crime, in Canada, s. 11(d) of the Charter indicates that you are innocent until proven guilty. However, although this may be the case, there are some restrictions placed on you once you have been officially charged with a crime. For example, depending on what you have been charged with you may not be able to travel, communicate with certain individuals, visit certain areas or do certain activities. Additionally, in the case that you have been charged with a more serious crime, there is a possibility that you may be held in custody until your next court date.