*This Is Not A Legal Opinion*
Last Updated: September 2010
1) What’s going on with my trial?
As of August 23, you are in one of the following categories:
- the 227 people who had their cases postponed to a later date, in most cases September or October.
- the 22 people who accepted a “diversion,” and made a donation to charity in exchange for having their charges dropped
- the 31 people who had the charges against them dropped
- the 5 people who signed an agreement to keep the peace (“Peace Bond”)
- the 6 people who plead guilty
- the 9 cases that were deemed to be administrative errors
- the 4 people who did not appear in court
2) When will my trial take place?
For most people who are coming back to court, your next date will be another “pro forma” exactly the same as the one on August 23. This means that the next time you are in court will be to set another date to come to court, before setting the date of your trial. Or it might be a pre-trial hearing about your trial.
There are many factors that make it difficult to know how long you will have to wait before you go to trial: the availability of evidence, the availability of the police and the availability of court rooms. It is not unusual to have to wait one or two years. Having your trial within a reasonable period of time is however a Constitutional right, and a very long delay could lead to the charges being withdrawn.
3) How likely is it that the charges will be dropped?
It is possible that the Crown will abandon other prosecutions at the next court date. It is difficult to say how likely this is, but it is possible that other people will have their charges dropped.
4) What are the chances that the charges will be dropped due to procedural error?
It is difficult to say how likely this is. One must submit a request to a judge for a stay of proceedings. If the judge feels there have been violations, s/he can order another form of remedy (i.e. an acquittal) rather than a stay of proceedings.
5) Has the Crown added any charges?
As far as we know, the Crown has not added any charges. For those arrested at the gym, the Crown simply clarified the exact nature of the conspiracy, but did not add any new charges.
6) If I sign an agreement to keep the peace, can I participate in the class action lawsuit?
An agreement to keep the peace (810 Peace Bond) does not constitute an admission of guilt. However, it could be taken as an acknowledgment that you were reasonably suspected to pose a threat to someone else or their belongings, and this may have ramifications in terms of your participation in lawsuits or what monetary damages you might be awarded from a lawsuit, or whether or not your arrest is deemed to be valid (see the “Agreement 810” section below).
1) Will I need a lawyer for what comes next?
It is your decision. Every person can choose to represent themselves (activists have done this in the past) or to get a lawyer, for either a part of the trial or for the whole thing. The lawyer can be based in Quebec or Ontario.
2) How do I pay for my lawyer?
For those people who were represented by a lawyer from CLAC 2010 on August 23, you do not have any fees to pay.
For the future, the CLAC 2010 Legal Committee is trying to make arrangements with activist lawyers to get group rates. CLAC 2010 is also campaigning to raise funds to try and cover the legal costs of the G20 arrestees.
3) Do I qualify for legal aid?
Canadian residents (including those who reside in Quebec) can apply for Ontario legal aid. Those accused who do not live in Canada are not eligible. In Ontario you can request legal aid as soon as you are charged, but it is usually necessary to have more information about how serious your charges are before a decision can be made. This means that you will have to wait until your first court appearance to make your request because you will need the “Charge Screening Form” which will be attached to your disclosure of evidence and which will list all of your charges and what sentence the Crown is seeking.
If you receive legal aid, you will be given a legal aid certificate with which the lawyer of your choosing can be paid by Legal Aid Ontario (LAO) for a set amount of work on your case. The certificate may be sent directly to your lawyer or it may be given to you to give to the lawyer of your choosing. The LAO may also propose an arrangement in which you contribute, which means that you will have to partially reimburse the legal aid certificate. If you are refused legal aid, you can appeal the decision in writing – you will find instructions in your letter of refusal.
Most of the initial decisions on legal aid in Ontario are negative. Most (around 80%) are subsequently accepted on appeal.
For more information: http://www.legalaid.on.ca/en/getting/type_criminal.asp
Or telephone 416-979-1446 or 1-800-668-8258.
Note: If you paid bail when you were released and you receive legal aid, the court may choose to keep your bail money to reimburse legal aid.
If you were abused by police during the G20 in Toronto, there are several forms of legal recourse you can seek:
1. Suing the police in court.
So far several class action suits have been filed:
- Class action suit initiated by Sherry Good (lawyer: Murray Klippenstein): This covers anyone who was surrounded, arrested or detained by the police without being charged at the time. Once the lawsuit is approved as a class action suit, everyone who meets this criterion is automatically included in the class action.Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Class action suit initiated by Miranda McQuade and Mike Barber (lawyer: David Midanik): This covers anyone who was arrested or detained on June 26 or 27, anyone who was detained at the Eastern Detention Center between June 25 and 30 (in connection with the G20). You will be included even if you are facing charges. This suit initially included those businesses that had property vandalized on June 26 and 27, which the CLAC Legal Committee considered to be highly problematic, as did several arrestees who contacted Midanik to explain why they could not participate in such a lawsuit. Subsequently, as of October 4th, the suit was amended and as it stands no longer includes those whose property was vandalized. For more information about this lawsuit, see www.g20defense.ca.
A class action suit seeks monetary compensation for damages (not sanctions against the police officers involved). The process can take several years.
You can also file your own lawsuit at the Ontario Small Claims Court or Superior Court. If you file your own individual lawsuit, you must withdraw from any class action suit which you would otherwise have been eligible to participate in. You have two years to file an individual or class action lawsuit.
See this guide for more information: http://charneylaw.ca/helpfuldocs/BookletSueThePolice-UpdatedNovember2006.pdf
See also the following videos:
- Suing the Police in Small Claims Court Part 1 of 3 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uCXyINOtKEY
- Suing the Police in Small Claims Court Part 2 of 3 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1vcSR7rPO5A
- Suing the Police in Small Claims Court Part 3 of 3 - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YCQQsj2_2SY
2. Lodge a complaint against the police.
You may lodge a complaint against any police officer with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director. You can do so online, by fax (1-877-415-4773), by mail or in person at any police station in Ontario. The form is available on the Commission’s website: https://www.oiprd.on.ca/CMS/Complaints.aspx?lang=en-CA
You will need specific information against the police officer in question, as well as all information relating to the complaint (see the “Documentation” section below).
See the following video for more information:
- Part One: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxKVce_Fzgg
- Part Two: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l0aWnkeKx2A
This kind of complaint can result in suspension or sanctions against police officers. You have six months to lodge a complaint.
3. Lodge a Complaint Before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario
You can lodge a complaint before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario if you have been subject to abuse contravening the Ontario Human Rights Code, if specific needs were neglected by the police or if you were harassed by the police.
The Ontario Human Rights Code prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, creed, place of origin, ancestry, colour, ethnicity, nationality, sex or gender identity, sexual orientation, age, marital status, family status or disability
This kind of complaint can result in monetary compensation for the abuse (not sanctions against police officers). You have one year to lodge this kind of complaint. The process can take about one year.
- Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario:http://www.hrto.ca/hrto/?q=en
- Human Rights Legal SupportCentre:http://www.hrlsc.on.ca/en/index.htm
Also, see these videos:
- Human Rights Part 1 of 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPzALLar658
- Human Rights Part 2 of 2: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ARiMs4x3Oo
4. File a criminal lawsuit
You can file a criminal lawsuit against any police officer who committed a criminal act against you. This process is fairly complicated. You must collect detailed information regarding your complaint, and present it to a Provincial Court judge (in Toronto) at a preliminary audience (a “private” court appearance held behind closed doors), during which the judge will decide if there are grounds to issue an order to appear in court to force the accused to testify. If the judge chooses to issue the accused with an order to appear in court (which only happens in 10% of cases), the Crown Prosecutor has to decide if there are grounds to pursue the case. This almost never happens in situations related to demonstrations.
5. Lodge a Complaint with International Bodies Such as the United Nations
The Ligue des Droits et Libertés is collecting testimony from arrestees, and intends to bring these cases before international bodies. Contact: email@example.com
If you were arrested and later released, you will have received a document titled “Recognizance” or “Promise to Appear” – this is the document that says you are allowed to go free. This document will include the conditions of your release. The most common are: not being allowed to associate with certain people (usually the co-accused); not being allowed to go to certain places at certain times; having to live at a particular address, etc. All these conditions are connected to your charges, so if the charges are dropped or if you are acquitted or if you plead guilty and receive a sentence, these conditions will no longer apply.
You must make a request if you wish to change your release conditions. This process involves negotiations between yourself (or your lawyer) and the Crown about changes in your conditions: you must provide serious and convincing reasons as to why your conditions should be changed, and the Crown must agree. You must then bring these changes before the court to have them finalized. If you have guarantors, they will have to be present at this court appearance to sign your new conditions.
It may however be difficult to get the Crown to agree to change your conditions. If it is not possible or if the Crown refuses to change your conditions, you can request a revision of your conditions. This is fairly complicated to do on your own, as you have to ask for transcripts of your court appearance when you were released (i.e. you must pay a court stenographer to transcribe the recording of everything that went on during that court appearance), then file these with the court, along with affidavits and your arguments in writing.
This is an agreement (or a commitment), normally for a period of twelve months, that you and the judge sign and within which the judge lists a certain number of conditions of his/her choosing. For example, the judge can ask that you agree to:
- Set aside a certain amount of money (for example, $500) for the period covered by the agreement. Note that you do not normally have to pay or deposit this money. Instead, you promise to pay it if you do not meet the conditions of the agreement.
- To “keep the peace and be of good behaviour” for the period covered by the agreement.
- To not possess any weapons for the period covered by the agreement.
These are just some examples – the judge may ask for different conditions.
In exchange for your agreement to respect these conditions, the Crown will withdraw the criminal charges against you. An agreement to not disturb the peace is not an admission of guilt.
What’s the Catch?
As part of an agreement to not disturb the peace, you have to acknowledge that the complainant or the victim feared that you would cause them bodily harm or that you would damage their property. In other words, you have to admit that the complainant or the victim had reason to believe that you were going to hurt them or damage their belongings. While this is in no way an admission of guilt, it may have ramifications in terms of challenging the validity of your arrest, and related lawsuits, including decreasing any monetary damages you might be awarded. What you say in court when agreeing to the peace bond may also be used by the police in civil suits to justify their actions.
What Happens If I Don’t Respect the Conditions of the Agreement?
You can be accused of committing a criminal act if you fail to meet the conditions of your agreement. What’s more, you may lose the sum of money (for example, $500) that you agreed to set aside when you signed the agreement.
Does an Agreement to Not Disturb the Peace Show Up in the Police’s Computer Files (CIPC)?
Yes. It will be indicated that you signed an agreement to not disturb the peace and that the charges against you were withdrawn.
1) Documentation: Personal vs. Public
It can be very important to document everything that happened to you and your friends as soon as possible, while the memories are still fresh.
This is different from public testimony that you might publish. If you decide to speak publicly about your experiences, it is important to speak in general terms, and to be careful to not incriminate anyone or violate their confidentiality.
2) Why Document Things?
It may be difficult and stressful to document things, but it will be helpful if you have to defend yourself against criminal charges, if you are a witness for anyone else, or if you file a lawsuit. These notes are normally not used in court as such, but rather may help to refresh your memory later on and to make sure that you have all the evidence in one place.
3) Should I Document Things?
You should put together a personal account of events if:
- You are facing criminal charges
- You witnessed police violence
- You were a victim of police violence or harassment on the street, while being arrested (whether or not you were charged), while you were being detained or when you were being released.
4) How Do I Document Things?
You should write these notes yourself, based on your own recollection of events. It is important to have support (friends or the psycho-social support committee: firstname.lastname@example.org) as this can be a difficult process.
- Date the document on top of each page and write “Confidential: For My Lawyer’s Use Only.” This helps to protect your notes so that they cannot be used against you or anyone else.
- For most people, it is easiest to proceed chronologically. Be precise about dates, times, places, etc. Include badge numbers, names of witnesses and any other details that you remember. Give your account of what happened.
- Contact all potential witnesses, especially legal observers, and ask them to do the same thing, but without discussing what happened with them. It is important that your account not be considered “contaminated” by other people’s experiences or suggestions.
- Keep copies of all audio-visual recordings or photographs, along with the dates, times, and places, and ask all witnesses to do the same thing. Write on these “For My Lawyer’s Use Only” if you do not want these to be made public.
- If possible, describe what impact these events had on you. If you were hurt, it is important to document this, and to include all medical records, to list appointments for therapy, time missed from work, etc. If you were hurt physically or traumatized by what happened to you, or if you are not sure of the effects of your injuries:
- ** consult a physician;
- ** take photos or videos of all injuries;
- ** make a list of your physical injuries and/or the psychological effects of what you experienced.
5) What To Do With This
Keep at least one copy in a safe place and only show it to your lawyer. If you need help finding a lawyer, or for more information about a possible class action suit, contact us and let us know why you are contacting us. DO NOT SEND US details about your case, your actions or the actions of others, and DO NOT SEND US your personal documentation.
If you are from Quebec or if you took the CLAC bus to get to Toronto, contact usat email@example.com call (514) 398-3323.
If you are from Ontario or elsewhere, contact lawunionMDC@gmail.com
While we encourage collective action, you can also find your own lawyer or contact the Ligue des Droits et Libertés and/or the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.