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Criminal Code

Version of section 544 from 2019-09-19 to 2020-10-05:


Marginal note:Accused absconding during inquiry

  •  (1) Notwithstanding any other provision of this Act, where an accused, whether or not he is charged jointly with another, absconds during the course of a preliminary inquiry into an offence with which he is charged,

    • (a) he shall be deemed to have waived his right to be present at the inquiry, and

    • (b) the justice

      • (i) may continue the inquiry and, when all the evidence has been taken, shall dispose of the inquiry in accordance with section 548, or

      • (ii) if a warrant is issued for the arrest of the accused, may adjourn the inquiry to await his appearance,

    but where the inquiry is adjourned pursuant to subparagraph (b)(ii), the justice may continue it at any time pursuant to subparagraph (b)(i) if he is satisfied that it would no longer be in the interests of justice to await the appearance of the accused.

  • Marginal note:Adverse inference

    (2) Where the justice continues a preliminary inquiry pursuant to subsection (1), he may draw an inference adverse to the accused from the fact that he has absconded.

  • Marginal note:Accused not entitled to re-opening

    (3) Where an accused reappears at a preliminary inquiry that is continuing pursuant to subsection (1), he is not entitled to have any part of the proceedings that was conducted in his absence re-opened unless the justice is satisfied that because of exceptional circumstances it is in the interests of justice to re-open the inquiry.

  • Marginal note:Counsel for accused may continue to act

    (4) Where an accused has absconded during the course of a preliminary inquiry and the justice continues the inquiry, counsel for the accused is not thereby deprived of any authority he may have to continue to act for the accused in the proceedings.

  • Marginal note:Accused calling witnesses

    (5) If, at the conclusion of the evidence on the part of the prosecution at a preliminary inquiry that has been continued under subsection (1), the accused is absent but their counsel is present, the counsel shall be given an opportunity to call witnesses on behalf of the accused, subject to subsection 537(1.01), and subsection 541(5) applies with any modifications that the circumstances require.

  • R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 544
  • 1994, c. 44, s. 55
  • 2019, c. 25, s. 246
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