Consequences of Not Reporting a Crime in Ontario: What You Need to Know
In Canada, there are certain legal obligations to report criminal activity to authorities. Failure to fulfill these obligations could result in legal consequences. However, this is a very nuanced and complicated question and may require some legal advice. In general, the answer is NO – you most likely would not be charged with an offence if you fail to report a crime. You can witness a crime either by being the victim or seeing a crime be perpetrated, and in either case there is no general duty to report.
When Are You Required to Report a Crime in Canada? Some Important Exceptions
In The Criminal Code of Canada, Section 22 pertains to counselling (to procure, solicit or incite) an offence. However, it has been interpreted in some instances to include the failure to report a crime as aiding or abetting, though in limited instances.
According to the Child and Family Services Act s72(1), any person who has reasonable grounds to suspect that a child under the age of 16 has suffered physical harm, is at risk of suffering physical harm, or has been molested or sexually exploited must report the information. Reasonable suspicion refers to a normal, genuine, and honest judgment that one of the aforementioned scenarios has occurred, and it is not equivalent to absolute certainty.
The other duties that individuals are responsible for vary depending on their province of residence. For example, in some provinces, individuals must report suspected abuse of elderly adults residing in long-term care or retirement homes, even if only based on reasonable grounds.
Duty to Report: What It Means and When It Applies in Canadian Law
This legal requirement to report criminal activity is also known as a “duty to report.” This duty is applicable to individuals who hold positions of authority or are in positions where they may become aware of criminal activity. For example, doctors, lawyers, and social workers have a legal obligation to report suspected cases of child abuse to the appropriate authorities. Failure to fulfill this obligation can lead to professional sanctions, including the loss of a license to practice.
However, for the general public, there is no legal requirement to report criminal activity. Nevertheless, it is always encouraged to report crimes that you witness or become aware of. In Canada, there is no time limit to report a crime, and anyone can report a crime they witness. So, if you at a later date feel the need to report you are free and able to do so.
Legal Implications of Not Reporting a Crime in Canada
Failing to report a crime can have serious consequences, such as allowing the perpetrator to continue their harmful behaviour, potentially putting others at risk. There are also ethical considerations to take into account. Choosing not to report a crime can result in feelings of guilt, regret, and a sense of moral responsibility.
If you have any concerns about whether you are legally obligated to report a crime, it is always best to seek guidance from a reputable lawyer. The team at Sondhi Defence can provide you with expert legal advice and help you understand your duties and responsibilities under Canadian law. We can answer any questions you may have and ensure that your conversation is protected by solicitor-client privilege. Don’t hesitate to reach out to Sondhi Defence for assistance with any legal matters related to criminal defence or reporting a crime. Schedule your free consultation now!