I have just been charged with a criminal offence, what should I expect and what is the process?

On arrest, an accused person has the right to consult with legal counsel of choice prior to making any statements to police. It is crucial that an accused person take advantage of the right to receive timely and effective advice on arrest. Once arrested, an accused will either be released by police, or, detained in custody overnight. If detained, an accused will be brought before a Justice of the Peace within 24 hours. The accused may then either be released with the consent of the crown prosecutor, or, proceed to a bail hearing to determine whether the accused will be released.


5 Court is the gateway into the criminal justice system for those who are released from custody. Video Court is the equivalent court for those who are held in custody. Appearances in video court are by way of video link from a local corrections facility (usually the Elgin Middlesex Detention Centre – EMDC). This is where we will receive your disclosure so we can then arrange a meeting with the Crown attorney to review your file. At this point, we will consult with you to determine whether we will move forward to resolution or to trial.


Trials are expensive and uncertain. They also take time. From the date you are ready to set your case to trial there is often a 3-6 month wait for trial time. Sometimes a much longer wait is required. That is why – whether you are in custody, or out of custody – every effort should be made to resolve your case without having to go to trial. There are many forms of early resolution that do not result in a criminal conviction and/or criminal record. We can explain your options and, if an agreeable resolution cannot be reached, we will proceed to trial.


Ron Ellis is a criminal defence lawyer based in London, Ontario and practices criminal defence law all over Southwestern Ontario, including Grand Bend, Sarnia, Woodstock and Kitchener.

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