Recognizance and Undertaking: Recognizance and undertaking are legal terms in Canadian law that refer to a person's promise to appear in court or to abide by certain conditions while awaiting trial. Recognizance is a formal promise to appear in court and can require the accused to provide a sum of money or sureties as security for their appearance. Recognizances can also be issued for witnesses. Undertaking is a promise to comply with certain conditions imposed by the court or police while awaiting trial, such as reporting to the police at specified times or abstaining from drugs or alcohol. These mechanisms allow an accused to remain free while awaiting trial, but failure to comply can result in severe consequences, such as forfeiture of money or return to custody.
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What is Recognizance?
A recognizance is a formal promise made by an accused to appear in court at a specified time and place. This is a legal document signed by the accused and may require that person to provide a sum of money or other valuable security as a guarantee of their appearance in court.
A recognizance can also be used to compel a witness to give evidence at a trial. If they fail to attend, a warrant can be issued for their arrest.
There are two types of recognizances that can be ordered by a court for the accused:
Recognizance With Sureties: This type of recognizance requires the accused to provide one or more sureties who will promise to pay a specified sum of money if they fail to appear in court.
Recognizance Without Sureties: This type of recognizance does not require the accused to provide any sureties or money as security for their appearance in court.
An Example of Recognizance
If an individual is charged with assault, the court may order that person to sign a recognizance promising to appear in court on a specified date and time. The accused may also be required to provide a sum of money as security for their appearance in court. If the accused fails to appear in court, they may forfeit the money they provided as security and a warrant may be issued for their arrest.
What is an Undertaking?
An undertaking is a promise made by an accused to comply with certain conditions while awaiting trial. These conditions are usually imposed by the court or the police. Failure to comply with them may result in the person being returned to custody.
Conditions of Undertaking
The conditions of an undertaking may include:
- reporting to the police at specified times or dates;
- abstaining from alcohol or drugs;
- refraining from contact with certain individuals or visiting certain places; and
- not possessing firearms or other weapons.
An Example of an Undertaking
If someone is charged with driving under the influence of alcohol, the court or the police may require them to sign an undertaking promising to abstain from alcohol and to report to police at specified times. If the accused fails to comply with these conditions, they may be returned to custody to await their trial.
Why they are Important
Recognizance and undertaking are commonly used in Canadian law. They allow an accused to remain free, as long as they agree to show up on the trial date or abide by certain conditions during this waiting period. The consequences of failing to comply with these promises can be severe, including forfeiture of money or return to custody.