WASH bail court and the holiday season. The festivities do not deny liberty.
The Holiday Season does not mean that people are not charged with criminal offences. In fact, the Holiday Season can be some of the busiest time of the year for certain offences. In our experience, we have noticed that impaired driving, domestic violence, and theft occur at a high rate of incidence compared with other times of the year. Much to the surprise of many people who are charged, and the families who need to attend to bail them out of jail, Criminal Court is still open in Ontario for these limited purposes.
In Ontario, Criminal Court is Open on Christmas, and the Holidays, because of a 24 hour obligation under the Criminal Code:
Under the Criminal Code of Canada, section 503(1), a person is required to be brought before a “justice” (which can mean a judge or justice of the peace) within twenty-four hours after that person is arrested, and without any unreasonable delay. This means that 24 hours is the minimum obligation under law but the police and Court ought to make every effort to ensure it is sooner and without delay. As a result, Criminal Courts that conduct bail hearings must stay open every day of the year. However, it does not mean any other types of criminal courts must remain open during the Holiday Season (such as trials, motions, or assignment court).
These special bail courts are often referred to as “WASH” courts. The acronym W.A.S.H. stands for “Weekends And Statutory Holidays” and runs on every day that the Ontario Criminal Court (or properly known as the “Ontario Court of Justice”) is not open.
Since the Court must function as justly as any other day of the year, all parties are present including the Crown Attorney, clerks, court reporters, and duty counsel. For those that wish to hire a lawyer to assist, criminal defence lawyers have become quite accustom to this reality and make arrangements to ensure their clients are properly represented even on these special WASH court days.
Should you need a criminal defence lawyer for a bail hearing, even over the Holiday Season, contact our office at (416) 999-8389 and one of lawyers will be sure to assist.