Failure to Attend Court

Failure to Attend Court or Surrender

The offence of failure to attend court or surrender is outlined in section 145(2) of the Criminal Code.

A person is guilty of the offence of failure to attend court or surrender when they are at large on a release order and without lawful excuse they fail to attend their scheduled court appearance as noted on the release order.

A person is also guilty of the offence when, having already appeared before the court, they fail to appear for any subsequent court appearances.

A person is also guilty of the offence when they fail, without lawful excuse, to surrender themselves to custody in accordance with a court order.

Finally, an individual is guilty of the offence where they fail, without lawful excuse, to comply with an order made under section 515.01 of the Identification of Criminals Act.

Examples

Person A is charged with sexual assault and released on an undertaking. They are provided a first appearance court date. Person A fails to attend their first appearance court date.

Person B is convicted of drug trafficking offences and sentenced to eight years in prison. At sentencing, the judge orders person B to surrender themselves on or before a specific date. Person B fails, without lawful excuse, to surrender on or before the date ordered by the court.

Cases

R. v. J.T., 2021 ONSC 1532

In R. v. J.T., the accused was convicted at trial of one count of failure to attend court pursuant to section 145(2) of the Criminal Code. While in the middle of a trial for other charges the accused had been charged with, he left Ontario and fled to British Columbia. More than a year after fleeing Ontario the offender came into contact with police during a separate incident and was taken into custody. He was subsequently charged with failure to attend court and returned to Ontario.

R. v. Trodd, 2021 ONCJ 336

In R. v. Trodd, the accused was convicted of failure to attend court or surrender pursuant to section 145(2)(b), in addition to other charges, after failing to appear for a scheduled court appearance. The offender was sentenced to two months in prison as a result of the conviction.

Offence Specific Defence(s)

Lawful Excuse

Where the release order or court order is breached for a lawful excuse, the person may not have committed the offence of failure to attend court or surrender. A lawful excuse includes a medical emergency or a threat to life. Forgetting or being mistaken about the time to appear after making a reasonable effort to recall the proper time can also count as a lawful excuse in some cases.

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