Flight from a Peace Officer (Offence)

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Flight from a Peace Officer
s. 320.17 of the Crim. Code
Election / Plea
Crown Election Hybrid / Indictable
summary proceedings must initiate within 12 months of the offence (786(2))
Jurisdiction Prov. Court

Sup. Court w/ Jury (*)
Sup. Court w/ Judge-alone (*)

* Must be indictable. Preliminary inquiry also available.
Summary Dispositions
Avail. Disp. Discharge (730)

Suspended Sentence (731(1)(a))
Fine (734)
Fine + Probation (731(1)(b))
Jail (718.3, 787)
Jail + Probation (731(1)(b))
Jail + Fine (734)

Conditional Sentence (742.1)
Minimum None
Maximum 2 years less a day
Indictable Dispositions
Avail. Disp. Discharge (730)*

Suspended Sentence (731(1)(a))
Fine (734)
Fine + Probation (731(1)(b))
Jail (718.3, 787)
Jail + Probation (731(1)(b))
Jail + Fine (734)
Conditional Sentence (742.1)*

(* varies)
Minimum None
Maximum 10, 14 years incarceration or Life
Reference
Offence Elements
Sentence Digests

Overview

Offences relating to flight from a peace officer are found in Part VIII.1 of the Criminal Code concerning "Offences Relating to Conveyances".

Pleadings
Offence
Section
Offence
Type
Crown Election Defence Election
s. 536(2)
Preliminary Inquiry
s. 320.17 [flight from peace officer] Hybrid Offence(s) Yes OK Symbol.png (* only if Crown proceeds by Indictment) X Mark Symbol.png (under 14 years max)

Offences under s. 320.17 [flight from peace officer] are hybrid with a Crown election. If prosecuted by indictment, there is a Defence election of Court under s. 536(2) to trial by provincial court, superior court judge-alone or superior court judge-and-jury.

Release
Offence(s) Appearance Notice
by Peace Officer

s. 497
Summons
by Judge or Justice

s. 508(1), 512(1), or 788
Release by
Peace Officer
on Undertaking

s. 498, 499, and 501
Release By
a Judge or Justice
on a Release Order

s. 515 to 519
Direct to Attend
for Fingerprints, etc.
Identification of Criminals Act

s. 2 ID Crim. Act
s. 320.17 [flight from peace officer] OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png

When charged under s. 320.17 [flight from peace officer], the accused can be given an appearance notice without arrest under s. 497 or a summons. If arrested, he can be released by the arresting officer under s. 498 or 499 on an undertaking with or without conditions. He can also be released by a justice under s. 515.

Reverse Onus Bail

If police decide to bring the accused before a Justice pursuant to s. 503, there will be a presumption against bail (i.e. a reverse onus) if the offence, prosecuted by indictment, was committed:

  • while at large under s. 515 [bail release], 679 or 680 [release pending appeal or review of appeal] (s. 515(6)(a)(i));
  • "for the benefit of, at the direction of, or in association" with a criminal organization (s. 515(6)(a)(ii));
  • where the offence involved a firearm, cross-bow, prohibited weapon restricted weapon, prohibited device, ammunition, prohibited ammunition or explosive substance, while the accused was subject to a prohibition order preventing possession of these items (s. 515(6)(a)(viii)); or
  • where the accused is not "ordinarily a resident in Canada" (s. 515(6)(b)).
Fingerprints and Photos

A peace officer who charges a person under s. 320.17 [flight from peace officer] of the Code can require that person to attend for the taking of fingerprints, photographs or other similar recordings that are used to identify them under the Identification of Criminals Act.

Publication Bans

For all criminal or regulatory prosecutions, there is a discretionary general publication ban available on application of the Crown, victim or witness to prohibit the publishing of "any information that could identify the victim or witness" under s. 486.5(1) where it is "necessary" for the "proper administration of justice". Other available publication bans include prohibitions for publishing evidence or other information arising from a bail hearing (s. 517), preliminary inquiry (s. 539) or jury trial (s. 648). There is a mandatory publication ban in all youth prosecutions on information tending to identify young accused under s. 110 of the YCJA or young victims under s. 111 of the YCJA.

Offence Designations
Offence(s) Wiretap
Eligible

s. 183
Dangerous Offender
Designated Offence

s. 752
Serious Personal
Injury Offence

s. 752
AG Consent Required Serious Criminality
Offence
s. 36 IRPA
s. 320.17 [flight from peace officer] X Mark Symbol.png OK Symbol.png (at least 10 years max)

See below in Ancillary Sentencing Orders for details on designations relating to sentencing orders.

Offence Wording

Flight from peace officer

320.17 Everyone commits an offence who operates a motor vehicle or vessel while being pursued by a peace officer and who fails, without reasonable excuse, to stop the motor vehicle or vessel as soon as is reasonable in the circumstances.

2018, c. 21, s. 15.

CCC


Note up: 320.17

Punishment

320.19
[omitted (1), (2), (3) and (4)]

Punishment — dangerous operation and other offences

(5) Everyone who commits an offence under subsection 320.13(1) [dangerous operation] or 320.16(1) [failure to stop after accident], section 320.17 [flight from peace officer] or subsection 320.18(1) [operation while prohibited] is liable

(a) on conviction on indictment, to imprisonment for a term of not more than 10 years; or
(b) on summary conviction, to imprisonment for a term of not more than two years less a day.

2018, c. 21, s. 15.
[annotation(s) added]

CCC


Note up: 320.19(5)

Draft Form of Charges

See also: Draft Form of Charges
Pre-ambles
"THAT [accused full name] stands charged that, between the <DATE> day of <MONTH>, <YEAR> and <DATE> day of <MONTH>, <YEAR>***, at or near <COMMUNITY/TOWN/CITY>, <PROVINCE>, he [or she]..." OR
"THAT [accused full name] stands charged that, on or about the <DATE> day of <MONTH>, <YEAR>, at or near <COMMUNITY/TOWN/CITY>, <PROVINCE>, he [or she]..." OR
"AND FURTHER at the same time and place aforesaid, he [or she]..."
Code Section Subject of Offence Draft Wording
"..., contrary to section 320.19 of the Criminal Code.

Proof of the Offence

Proving flight from a peace officer under s. 320.17 and 320.19 should include:[1]

  1. identity of accused as culprit
  2. date and time of incident
  3. jurisdiction (incl. region and province)
  4. the culprit operated a motor vehicle;
  5. the police pursued the vehicle in their own vehicle;
  6. the culprit knew a peace officer was pursing them;
  7. the culprit failed to stop as soon as reasonably possible in the circumstances;
  8. the absence of a reasonable excuse for failing to stop;
  9. the culprit failed to stop in order to evade the police;
  10. the speed of the chase;
  11. signs of dangerous driving and whether any other persons were at risk.


  1. R v Kulchisky, 2007 ABCA 110 (CanLII), per Berger JA, at para 4

Interpretation of the Offence

The passenger can be liable along with the driver where the passenger had “the exercise of a directing authority”. [1]

A “reasonable excuse” for flee police provides a justification for the offence and does not negate any essential element of the offence itself. [2] For example, a desire to think things through goes to motive and still results in a conviction.[3]

Warrantless entry into a dwelling was not permitted when a possibly mentally ill individual reports people breaking into his house.[4]

  1. R v Slessor, 1969 CanLII 248 (ON CA), [1969] OJ No 1514 (C.A.), per Gale CJ
  2. R v Armstrong, 2011 ONCA 709 (CanLII), per Watt JA, at para 9
  3. R v Kulchisky, 2007 ABCA 110 (CanLII), per Berger JA, at para 10
    R v Fonseca, 2012 BCPC 13 (CanLII), per Dhillon J, at para 81
    See also Reasonable Excuse
  4. R v Larson, 2011 BCCA 454 (CanLII), per Groberman JA

Causation

See Causation

Misc Definitions

Section 2 defines "bodily harm", "motor vehicle", "peace officer".

214 In this Part,
...
"operate"

(a) means, in respect of a motor vehicle, to drive the vehicle,
(b) means, in respect of railway equipment, to participate in the direct control of its motion, whether
(i) as a member of the crew of the equipment,
(ii) as a person who, by remote control, acts in lieu of such crew, or
(iii) as other than a member or person described in subparagraphs (i) and (ii), and
(c) includes, in respect of a vessel or an aircraft, to navigate the vessel or aircraft;

...
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 214; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 33, c. 32 (4th Supp.), s. 56; 2002, c. 13, s. 9.

CCC


Note up: 214

Participation of Third Parties

See also: Role of the Victim and Third Parties and Testimonial Aids for Young, Disabled or Vulnerable Witnesses
Testimonial Aids

Certain persons who testify are entitled to make application for the use of testimonial aids: Exclusion of Public (s. 486), Use of a Testimonial Screen (s. 486), Access to Support Person While Testifying (s. 486.1), Close Proximity Video-link Testimony (s. 486.2), Self-Represented Cross-Examination Prohibition Order (s. 486.3), and Witness Security Order (s. 486.7).

A witness, victim or complainant may also request publication bans (s. 486.4, 486.5) and/or a Witness Identity Non-disclosure Order (s. 486.31). See also, Publication Bans, above.

On Finding of Guilt
Offence(s) Victim Notice
of Agreement
s. 606(4.1), (4.2)
Victim Notice
for Restitution
s. 738
Victim Notice
of Impact Statement
s. 722(2)
s. 320.17 [flight from peace officer]

Under s. 738, a judge must inquire from the Crown before sentencing whether "reasonable steps have been taken to provide the victims with an opportunity to indicate whether they are seeking restitution for their losses and damages".

Under s. 722(2), the judge must inquire "[a]s soon as feasible" before sentencing with the Crown "if reasonable steps have been taken to provide the victim with an opportunity to prepare" a victim impact statement. This will include any person "who has suffered, or is alleged to have suffered, physical or emotional harm, property damage or economic loss" as a result of the offence. Individuals representing a community impacted by the crime may file a statement under s. 722.2.

Sentencing Principles and Ranges

See also: Purpose and Principles of Sentencing, Sentencing Factors Relating to the Offender, and Sentencing Factors Relating to the Offence
Maximum Penalties
Offence(s) Crown
Election
Maximum Penalty
s. 320.17 and 320.19 [flight from peace officer] Summary Conviction 2 years less a day jail and/or a $5,000 fine (from Sept 19, 2019)
s. 320.17 and 320.19 [flight from peace officer] Indictable Conviction 10 years incarceration

Offences under s. 320.17 [flight from peace officer] are hybrid. If prosecuted by indictment, the maximum penalty is 10 years incarceration. If prosecuted by summary conviction, the maximum penalty is 2 years less a day jail and/or a $5,000 fine (from Sept 19, 2019) .

Minimum Penalties

Offences under s. 320.17 [flight from peace officer] have no mandatory minimum penalties.

Available Dispositions
Offence(s) Crown
Election
Discharge
s. 730
Suspended
Sentence

s. 731(1)(a)
Stand-alone
Fine

s. 731(1)(b)
Custody
s. 718.3, 787
Custody and
Probation
s. 731(1)(b)
Custody and
Fine
s. 734
Conditional
Sentence
(CSO)
s. 742.1
s. 320.17 [flight from peace officer] any OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png OK Symbol.png

All dispositions are available.The judge may order a discharge (s. 730), suspended sentence (s. 731(1)(a)), fine (s. 731(1)(b)), custody (s. 718.3, 787), custody with probation (s. 731(1)(b)), custody with a fine (s. 734), or a conditional sentence (s. 742.1).

Consecutive Sentences

There are no statutory requirements that the sentences be consecutive.

Principles

This offence will often attract a sentence that will be consecutive to other convictions that arise out of the same interaction.[1]

  1. R v Roberts, 2005 ABCA 11 (CanLII), per Côté JA
    R v Mozylisky, 2009 SKCA 94 (CanLII), per Smith JA
    R v Akapew, 2009 SKCA 137 (CanLII), per Hunter JA

Factors

Aggravating circumstances for sentencing purposes

320.22 A court imposing a sentence for an offence under any of sections 320.13 to 320.18 [all conveyance offences] shall consider, in addition to any other aggravating circumstances, the following:

(a) the commission of the offence resulted in bodily harm to, or the death of, more than one person;
(b) the offender was operating a motor vehicle in a race with at least one other motor vehicle or in a contest of speed, on a street, road or highway or in another public place;
(c) a person under the age of 16 years was a passenger in the conveyance operated by the offender;
(d) the offender was being remunerated for operating the conveyance;
(e) the offender’s blood alcohol concentration at the time of committing the offence was equal to or exceeded 120 mg of alcohol in 100 mL of blood;
(f) the offender was operating a large motor vehicle; and
(g) the offender was not permitted, under a federal or provincial Act, to operate the conveyance.

2018, c. 21, s. 15.

CCC


Note up: 320.22

Offence-specific Factors
  • whether there were pedestrians or other vehicles on the road
  • condition of the road at the time
  • whether blood alcohol level above 0.120 (see s. 320.22(e))

Ranges

see also: Flight from a Peace Officer (Sentencing Cases)

Ancillary Sentencing Orders

See also: Ancillary Orders
Offence-specific Orders
Order Conviction Description
DNA Orders s. 249.1(2), (4)
Driving Prohibition Orders (s. 320.24)


General Sentencing Orders
Order Conviction Description
Non-communication order while offender in custody (s. 743.21) any The judge has the discretion to order that the offender be prohibited "from communicating...with any victim, witness or other person" while in custody except where the judge "considers [it] necessary" to communicate with them.
Restitution Orders (s. 738) any A discretionary Order is available for things such as the replacement value of the property; the pecuniary damages incurred from harm, expenses fleeing a domestic partner; or certain expenses arising from the commission of an offence under s.402.2 or 403.
Victim Fine Surcharge (s. 737) any A discretionary surcharge under s. 737 of 30% of any fine order imposed, $100 per summary conviction or $200 per indictable conviction. If the offence occurs on or after October 23, 2013, the order has smaller minimum amounts (15%, $50, or $100).
General Forfeiture Orders
Forfeiture Conviction Description
Forfeiture of Proceeds of Crime (s. 462.37(1) or (2.01)) any Where there is a finding of guilt for an indictable offence under the Code or the CDSA in which property is "proceeds of crime" and offence was "committed in relation to that property", the property shall be forfeited to Her Majesty the Queen on application of the Crown.
Fine in Lieu of Forfeiture (s. 462.37(3)) any Where a Court is satisfied an order for the forfeiture of proceeds of crime under s. 462.37(1) or (2.01) can be made, but that property cannot be "made subject to an order", then the Court "may" order a fine in "an amount equal to the value of the property". Failure to pay the fine will result in a default judgement imposing a period of incarceration.
Forfeiture of Weapons or Firearms (s. 491) any Where there is finding of guilt for an offence where a "weapon, an imitation firearm, a prohibited device, any ammunition, any prohibited ammunition or an explosive substance was used in the commission of [the] offence and that thing has been seized and detained", or "that a person has committed an offence that involves, or the subject-matter of which is, a firearm, a cross-bow, a prohibited weapon, a restricted weapon, a prohibited device, ammunition, prohibited ammunition or an explosive substance has been seized and detained, that the item be an enumerated weapon or related item be connected to the offence", then there will be a mandatory forfeiture order. However, under s. 491(2), if the lawful owner "was not a party to the offence" and the judge has "no reasonable grounds to believe that the thing would or might be used in the commission of an offence", then it should be returned to the lawful owner.
Forfeiture of Offence-related Property (s. 490.1) any Where there is a finding of guilt for an indictable offence, "any property is offence-related property" where (a) by means or in respect of which an indictable offence under this Act or the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act is committed, (b) that is used in any manner in connection with the commission of such an offence, or (c) that is intended to be used for committing such an offence". Such property is to be forfeited to Her Majesty in right of the province.

Record Suspensions and Pardons

Convictions under s. 249.1(2) and (4) are eligible for record suspensions pursuant to s. 3 and 4 of the Criminal Records Act after 5 years after the expiration of sentence for summary conviction offences and 10 years after the expiration of sentence for all other offences. The offender may not have the record suspended where the offender was (1) convicted of 3 or more offences with a maximum penalty of life, and (2) for each 3 offences he "was sentenced to imprisonment for two years or more".

History

Until December 18, 2018, the offence read as follows:

Flight

249.1 (1) Every one commits an offence who, operating a motor vehicle while being pursued by a peace officer operating a motor vehicle, fails, without reasonable excuse and in order to evade the peace officer, to stop the vehicle as soon as is reasonable in the circumstances.

Punishment

(2) Every one who commits an offence under subsection (1)

(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or
(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.
Flight causing bodily harm or death

(3) Every one commits an offence who causes bodily harm to or the death of another person by operating a motor vehicle in a manner described in paragraph 249(1)(a), if the person operating the motor vehicle was being pursued by a peace officer operating a motor vehicle and failed, without reasonable excuse and in order to evade the police officer, to stop the vehicle as soon as is reasonable in the circumstances.

Punishment

(4) Every person who commits an offence under subsection (3)

(a) if bodily harm was caused, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years; and
(b) if death was caused, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life.

2000, c. 2, s. 1.

CCC


See Also

Related Offences