This briefing was prepared in collaboration with legal professionals, and while we cannot make any guarantees, it represents the best knowledge we have of the potential implications of this action.
We will be hosting four Legal Briefing webinars prior to the action — two in English and two in French. if you are taking part in the action, we strongly recommend that join us for one of these sessions. For the full schedule — click here.
What will I be charged with if I’m arrested at this action?
While we cannot fully predict the outcome of the action, similar actions have resulted in a trespassing charge and a fine. Our plan and action will be clearly explained and discussed ahead of time with participants. Law enforcement will know to expect us so there should be less surprises. Our assessment, based on consultation with legal professionals and looking at the history of similar civil disobedience actions is that the most likely outcome of this will be a trespassing charge. Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee any specific legal outcome, but will be taking every measure possible, including having clear action agreements, to reduce the possibility of increased legal implications. More information will be available during the trainings and the logistics calls prior to the action at which time we will also be able to give updated information on all of this as the action planning progresses. Common charges for civil disobedience or protests include:
- Trespassing, section 2 Trespass to Property Act;
- Mischief , section 430 of the Criminal Code
- Obstruct peace officer/resist peace officer; section 129 of the Criminal Code
- Assault peace officer; section 270(1)(b)
- Breach of Peace; section 495 of the Criminal Code
- Unlawful Assembly; section 66 of the Criminal Code
- Conspiracy to Commit Mischief; section 21 and 430 of the Criminal Code
If we get fined for this action, how much could it be? Will organisers be covering these fees?
Unfortunately, we cannot predict how much the fines may amount to and it is largely dependant on the charges. Organisers will not be responsible for fines. Each individual will be responsible to deal with them as appropriate. Organisers are looking at different ways of doing some crowdfunding to help offset some of these legal costs and we will keep you posted.
Will my arrest result in detention?
An arrest as a part of this action will probably result in some form of detention, either on site while a fine is being issued, or at a police detention centre or processing centre while charges are being issued.
If people are detained in Ottawa, where is it likely to be?
If participants are detained off-site it is likely to be at the police station at 474 Elgin St, unless they prepare a special processing centre for the event. Information will be shared publicly in the event that this happens.
Will I need bail money or sureties?
You will not need bail money or sureties in the case of a trespassing charge which is an offence under the Provincial Offences Act, but if you are charged with a criminal offence (mischief, etc.) it is possible that this may be needed.
Will you be getting a permit for this action with the City of Ottawa or RCMP?
Normally, people are allowed to walk near the entrance and fence surrounding 24 Sussex, but can’t linger there for prolonged periods. During the course of a protest it is possible that new security measures may also be imposed. Organisers will be communicating with law enforcement agencies ahead of time to avoid any surprises and request a permit for the march.
Will participating in this action result in a criminal record?
Provincial Offences Act convictions such as trespassing do not qualify as a criminal offense and do not result in a criminal record. However, we cannot fully predict the outcome of the action, nor can there be any guarantee that criminal charges will not be laid against protesters.
Can I participate in this action twice?
We ask that participants choose one day to participate. Multiple arrests on similar charges are likely to make the charges increase or create complications.
Can minors participate in the action?
We’re requesting that minors not participate in the sit-in part of the action, but they’re welcome to help out as part of our support team providing water, taking photos, etc.
What should I do if I’m willing to risk arrest but need to take medications?
If you are participating in an action and require daily medication, we recommend you take the necessary medication (for a 24 hour period) with you as a precautionary measure. If you are detained after the action, it can take a certain amount of time for you to be released.
What should we do if there are opponents trying to disrupt the action or people who start to act outside of the agreed Action Guidelines?
Dealing with inappropriate escalation (or confrontation from our opponents) is going to be a main duty of the support team that will be on site for every action. They’ll be ready to talk with folks who seem to be getting out of hand, and to help direct energy to the more strategic, productive parts of the action.
Can I participate in the action if I am an international student, have permanent residency or am a person without Canadian citizenship?
We recommend that people without Canadian citizenship seek legal advice for their specific situation before participating in this action as the risks are higher and the charges could be different to those of Canadian citizens.
Can I participate in the action if I have priors or am currently in a court case?
We do not recommend that people with priors or current legal proceedings participate in the action as the charges could be different and complications could arise.
I am a public servant, can I participate in this action?
Participation in lawful protest is a democratic right. If you are charged with a provincial offence such as trespass, your public service employer should have no cause to discipline you. If you are disciplined or harassed at work by your employer, speak to your trade union or a lawyer. If you are charged with a criminal offense, your public service employer may decide to investigate the matter on its own and/or suspend you with or without pay. Any person charged but not convicted is innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
Will the charges from this action be reflected in a police record check? (For example if I need to have a police record check done for employment, etc.)
A police record check will include convictions under the Criminal Code. If you are not charged criminally, the resulting conviction will not become part of a criminal record.
Will the charges from this action affect my ability to travel or cross the border?
Any serious criminal offense conviction may affect your ability to travel abroad or cross the border to the United States. For US border crossings, serious offenses usually involve violence or crimes of “moral turpitude”, which are assessed on a case by case basis. Non-violent summary offence convictions may not cause problems for foreign travel, but you should speak to a lawyer if you intend to travel abroad in such circumstances.
Got questions that haven’t been answered here? E-Mail us at firstname.lastname@example.org.