The recently released decision in R. v. Doyon reinforces the importance of an accused being released from custody on reasonable terms after being charged with a criminal offence.
The accused was charged with impaired operation and over .08. She had no previous criminal record and was not on release for any other charges. She should have been released on an officer-in-charge undertaking and a promise-to-appear. However, because she lived in Quebec, the officer-in-charge erroneously concluded that she had to be held for a bail hearing. This meant that Ms. Doyon was detained in a jail cell and transported to a bail court to be dealt with by a presiding justice. This caused the accused to miss a business meeting that was scheduled for 8a.m.
Justice Borenstein, at trial, on application by the accused, granted a stay of proceedings under s.24(1) of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. This means that the Crown is prevented from prosecuting her charges. The evidence presented at trial was that when she protested about being detained and asked why she couldn’t be released, her questions were ignored by the Staff Sergeant. At her bail hearing, the Crown characterized her simple questions to the Staff Sergeant as the cause of her detention (which is also not justifiable at law). The court took a very dim view of the Staff Sergeant’s conduct.
A far more common problem is accused persons are held for bail but do not have a hearing within the time-frame mandated by the Criminal Code. A stay of proceedings is an effective remedy available to an accused at trial to address these occurrences.