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Ulysses101, Lawyer
Category: Canada Law
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Experience:  11 years experience in Canada family law, plus criminal, civil, and employment
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Can the police arrest someone and fingerprint Them without

Resolved Question:

Can the police arrest someone and fingerprint Them without a warrant for the arrest?
Submitted: 8 years ago.
Category: Canada Law
Expert:  Ulysses101 replied 8 years ago.

Hello Singer


Where did you find this information?


Have you been charged with something?

Customer: replied 8 years ago.

Yes I have been charged with something and the police here in BC entered my house without my permission, arrrested me without a warrant and then fingerprinted me, which I understand they cannot do because to fingerprint me would mean they are charging me with an indictable offence, which would mean they would need a warrant to arrest me. They also didn't tell me what charge or charges they were arresting me for.


In Canada summary offences are referred to as summary conviction offences. As in other jurisdictions summary conviction offences are considered less serious than indictable offences because they are punishable by shorter prison sentences and smaller fines. These offences appear both in the federal laws of Canada and in the legislation of Canada's provinces and territories. For summary conviction offences that fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government (which includes all criminal law), section 787 of the Criminal Code of Canada specifies that, unless another punishment is provided for by law, the maximum penalty for a summary conviction offence is a sentence of 6 months of imprisonment, a fine of $5000 or both. Section 786 of the Code has a statute that prohibits persons from being tried for a summary conviction offence more than 6 months after the offence was committed unless both the prosecutor and defendant agree otherwise.

As a matter of practical effect, some common differences between Summary Conviction and Indictable Offences are provided below.

Summary Conviction Offences

  • Accused must be charged with a Summary Conviction within 6 months after the act happened. Note that the Statute of Limitations does not apply to the Criminal Code. Limitation periods are set out in the Criminal Code directly.
  • The police can arrest under Summary Conviction without an arrest warrant.
  • Police need to have seen the accused commit the offence before they can charge under Summary Conviction.
  • Accused does not have to submit fingerprints when charged under Summary Conviction.
  • Appeals of Summary Conviction Offences go first to the highest trial court within the jurisdiction (e.g. Provincial Superior Court in Alberta is the Court of Queen's Bench).
  • After Prov. Superior Court a further appeal would go to the Provincial Court of Appeal, and then finally to the Supreme Court of Canada, but as a practical matter very few Summary Convictions are ever heard by the Supreme Court of Canada.
  • Accused convicted under Summary Conviction are eligible to apply for pardon after 3 years.
  • Almost always heard first in a provincial court (although some exceptions apply, such as a summary conviction offence included for trial with an indictable offence).


Indictable Offences

  • There is no time limit to when charges can be laid, e.g. an accused can be charged 20 years after an act has occurred. The exception to this point is treason, which has a 3-year limitation period.
  • Police require a warrant to arrest under an Indictable Offence (warrants are required to be signed by judge).
  • Police only need to have reasonable and probable grounds to believe that the accused has committed the offence (as opposed to having directly witnessed the act as in a Summary Conviction offence).
  • Accused does have to submit fingerprints when required to appear to answer to an indictable offence.
  • Appeals always go to the Provincial Court of Appeal first, and then on to the Supreme Court of Canada.
  • Accused convicted under an Indictable Offence can apply for pardon after 5 years.


Expert:  Ulysses101 replied 8 years ago.
That does seem unusual. Clearly, you should contact a criminal lawyer as soon as possible to help you out there. But you don't need to pay me to tell you that.

Having said that, is there something I can help you with here?
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
Can they arrest me without telling me what I'm being charged with?
Expert:  Ulysses101 replied 8 years ago.

Technically, yes you can be arrested without being charged or being told the charge. When you're arrested, it's on suspicion of a charge. It's the crown attorneys that actually lay the charge most times, except in lesser offenses as you've observed through your own research.


Indictable crimes, drug offenses, terrorist activities, the bigger crimes are most common for arrest without charge.





Customer: replied 8 years ago.
yes, ok, but can they arrest me for an Indictable offence without a warrant and can they arrest me for a summary offence without having seen my commit the crime?
Expert:  Ulysses101 replied 8 years ago.

Whether they can is different from whether they will or whether they have, and my opinion sitting here isn't going to change what has or will happen.


Don't forget that many offenses are hybrid offenses, and so can be either pursued on a summary or indictable basis. That's up to the crown. The police rarely make these distinctions anyway, if they have personal evidence to formulate an arrest they usually do so, if they have statements that lead to an indictable charge if reliable, they get a warrant. They do what they can to get the arrest and then let the crown sort it out.


If the arrest was improper, your lawyer can make a pitch to have it thrown out, and likely succeed.



Ulysses101 and other Canada Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 8 years ago.
But there was no warrant to arrest me for the indictable offence
Expert:  Ulysses101 replied 8 years ago.

It might have been a hybrid offense. And again, whether I agree with you or not that won't change what happened and what your options are from here on in. Get a criminal lawyer to look at it and determine if it's worth trying to have the charges quashed or the evidence gathered as a result of the improper arrest thrown out.


It's common for police to arrest on minor charges and gather evidence for the crown to review and consider whether indictable offense charges can follow.



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