How Long Can Police Wait to Press Criminal Charges?

December 17, 2020

What is the statute of limitations on criminal charges? How long the police can wait before pressing criminal charges against you depends on the type of offence. The type of offence depends on how seriously the offence is considered and affects the severity of the consequences and likelihood of going to jail.

A summary conviction offence is generally considered less serious. These are sometimes referred to as petty crimes, such as “disturbance in a public place.” For a summary offence, police have up to six months to press criminal charges.

There is no statute of limitations on criminal charges that are indictable offences. These offences are treated and sentenced much more severely. They may include charges involving violence or sexual offences. Indictable offences are considered to present a much larger risk to the community.

Consenting to Charges After 6 Months

Offences are often classified as hybrid rather than pure summary offences. In the event of a hybrid offence, the Crown is able to choose whether to pursue a summary or indictable conviction. After the six months have passed, the Crown can no longer pursue a summary conviction without the defendant’s consent.

So why would you consent to be charged? Once the window has closed for pressing summary charges, a hybrid offence only allows them to pursue an indictable conviction. Indictable offences carry much more serious penalties. As such, it may be in your best interest to consent to summary charges in hopes of a more favourable sentence.

Should I Consent? Is the Statute of Limitations on Criminal Charges Important?

Facing less severe sentencing will always sound like a better option. But whether or not you should consent is best determined on a case-by-case basis. Discuss your options with a criminal defence lawyer.

Your defence lawyer is better equipped to examine the case against you. They can assess whether the Crown has a strong enough case to be worth pursuing as an indictable conviction. Examining the evidence and circumstances may unveil that they may not have a strong enough position to seek an indictable conviction. If so, it may be best not to consent.

If, however, the available evidence suggests that you are likely to be convicted, consenting may be the better option. This way, a conviction will lead to less severe sentencing, and can even open the possibility of alternative sentencing. In some instances, it may even be possible to avoid a criminal record.

Hire a Toronto Criminal Defence Lawyer

Before agreeing to any deal, consenting to charges, or speaking to the police, your best bet is to talk to a Toronto criminal defence lawyer. Your lawyer will help you understand your charges, what the statute of limitations on the criminal charges you are facing are, your options, and the potential consequences. Do not take that leap, without understanding what you’re jumping into.

William Jaksa is an experienced criminal defence lawyer who will help protect your rights and interests. Book a consultation today.

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