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What if the police don't let me leave after they arrest me?

What if the police don't let me leave after they arrest me?
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Legal Aid Ontario (LAO)
Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD)

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What if the police don't let me leave after they arrest me?
This question has an answer and 4 steps
December 31, 2016

What the police are allowed to do

The police are allowed to take you into custody when they arrest you. This means they do not have to let you leave. They can make you stay at the police station.

If you are drunk in public, the police can take you into custody until you are sober. The police will usually make you stay at the police station overnight and let you leave in the morning.

After taking you into custody, within 24 hours the police must:

  • let you leave, or
  • bring you before a judge or a justice of the peace, and not cause an unreasonable delay in giving you a bail hearing

If you're arrested on the weekend, or a judge or justice of the peace is not available, you may be in police custody longer.

Once the police drop you off at court, the Crown is in charge of your case. The police can no longer drop your charges or let you out of custody.

At court, the Crown may:

  • consent to your release, with or without conditions, or
  • seek to keep you in custody while you have criminal charges in court

The judge or justice of the peace may:

  • release you with or without conditions at a bail hearing, or
  • order that you remain in custody while the court considers your criminal charges

What happens at court

If the Crown does not agree to release you at your bail hearing, prepare a plan of release. Your lawyer will help you prepare the plan and will present it to the court.

Your plan of release should explain:

  • how you will be supervised in the community
  • who is available to help supervise you
  • your opportunities for employment or education while you wait for the outcome
  • how you will address any anger, drug use, or alcohol issues you may have


Bail court is very busy. It is common for your bail hearing to be adjourned because there is not enough time to hear all the cases that are in bail court every day.

You might be brought to court for a bail hearing multiple days in a row and still not be “reached”. This means that you will have to continue waiting in custody until the court has time to hear your case.

Bail hearing

On the day of your bail hearing, the judge or justice of the peace will decide if you should be released while your criminal charges are resolved or a trial date is set. If you are granted bail, you may have to follow conditions given to you by the court.

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