One minute you were standing on a lake’s edge fishing for snapper. In the next, you’ve found yourself standing behind bars, all because you forgot to renew your fishing license this year.
Criminal lawyers have a bad reputation as defenders of the dark from folks who have never had contact with the criminal justice system. People who have never gotten arrested believe jails are full of bad people, most guilty of their charges. This belief isn’t a reflection of truth, as any criminal lawyer can explain.
Good people get put in jail all the time for small offenses. In fact, if police catch someone in the act of committing a summary offense, they can arrest without a warrant:
Criminal justice activists have worked to reduce the amount of people jailed for ignoring a minor court order to pay a speeding ticket, a common issuance for road travelers. A warrant for arrest is issued when there is no response to the court order, especially when courts struggle to meet budget requirements. Fines add up, and off to jail the speeder will go the next time they are pulled over.
The example used in this article’s introduction is unfortunately true. People do get arrested and fined for hunting and fishing without proper licensing.
Ignoring Court Orders
If you receive a complaint about a nuisance on your property or if your dog is accused of being vicious, you are required to respond. These two things are not necessarily punishable by jail time, for example, these things are not in and of themselves punishable with jail time, but rather the failure to respond to a court order is often what lands folks behind bars.
What Are the Differences Between Conviction Offences, Hybrid Offences and Indictable Offences?
So far, we’ve discussed violations of the law that are considered summary conviction offences, in which the punishment can be up to six months in jail, a $5,000 fine, or both.
Indictable offences are reserved for the most serious of crimes. Punishments are severe, and can include life in prison, larger fines, or both.
Hybrid offences are crimes in which the Crown can choose to either charge as a summary or indictable offense.
None of the small offenses listed above would typically label someone as a “bad” person or criminal, but society has a different view on folks who have put in jail time for these same offenses. That’s why it is important to hire an experienced criminal lawyer. Criminal attorneys understand how these things happen. A criminal lawyer can answer all your questions about what you were charged (which isn’t always clear), and how to move forward.