4. Turn yourself in

What happens if I miss my court date for a criminal offence?
This question has an answer and 4 steps
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4. Turn yourself in

It's better to turn yourself in than to wait for the police to pick you up. The courts are more likely to think you're a responsible person if you turn yourself in. This may improve your chances of being allowed to go back into the community if you have a bail hearing.

The best time to turn yourself in is 6:00 am Tuesday – Thursday. That way if you are held for a bail hearing, it will be more likely you will go to court and have your hearing on the same day.

If you turn yourself in late in the day, you may have to spend the night in custody before you get a bail hearing. If you turn yourself in on a Friday, you may have to stay in custody over the weekend and have your bail hearing the following Monday. If you turn yourself in on a Monday, the court may be extra busy because of weekend arrests.

Walk into the police station and tell the receptionist at the desk your name, and that you are there to turn yourself in. You do not have to say anything else. If there is a valid warrant for your arrest, the police will arrest you.

Once you have been placed under arrest, you have the right to talk to a lawyer, if you ask to do so. Always talk to a lawyer before you talk to the police.

What the police must do

After you've turned yourself in, within 24 hours the police must either:

  • release you, or
  • take you to a judge or a justice of the peace without unreasonable delay.

The police must tell you that you have the right to talk to a lawyer. If you tell the police you want to talk to a lawyer, the police must allow you to contact a lawyer. You must be allowed to talk to the lawyer in private.

The police must tell you about Legal Aid Ontario. If you've been arrested or detained, you can contact duty counsel immediately. If they don't tell you, ask the police for the toll-free phone number for duty counsel.

Reviewed: November 20, 2017

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