I recently represented an individual charged with Theft under $5,000. The person was released on
three very specific conditions which included a commitment to NOT visit a certain location (such
conditions are called “undertakings”). After a couple of months, the individual DID visit the location that was banned and while there the police were called, and new charges were laid including Failure to Comply with an undertaking (s.145 (4) (a)) and Break and Enter (s.348)
Most criminal offences are not settled at trial. Trials (even for relatively straightforward offences) are
complicated, expensive, and risky for both sides (there will be a loser). Prior to any trial being scheduled
there is always an opportunity to discuss a settlement with the Crown. These discussions are called Crown Pre-Trials (CPTs). It’s a chance for the defence and the Crown to discuss the charges and possible outcomes. A good defence counsel will present the story of the accused and suggest ways in which the Crown’s case is weak or incomplete.
Discussions with the Crown
During the CPT for the individual with (now) multiple charges I was able to cast doubt on the evidence for the theft and for the B&E. It appeared as if a favourable outcome might be negotiated but, a major obstacle was the new charge of Failure to Comply with an Undertaking. Of the three charges it was the Failure to Comply that the Crown was most concerned about.
Our justice system serves many purposes. One of the most important is to contribute to a feeling of safety in our communities. To support the importance of playing by the rules. When an individual is told and agrees NOT TO DO “x, y and z” and the person turns around and breaks their promise to follow the rules, the Crown becomes very concerned about the willingness (and ability) of such a person to ever follow the rules. And so, they should.
The offence of Failure to Comply became the central focus of my discussions with the Crown. It made for a lengthy and difficult set of discussions.
Signing an Undertaking with the Court is a serious commitment. Take it seriously.