I've Been Charged with a Criminal (or Youth) Offence out-of-Town and Want to Move the Case Closer to Home
Criminal cases almost always are dealt with in the courthouse closest to where the alleged offence takes place. If you are pleading not guilty, you must do so at the Courthouse nearest to where the offence happens, and the trial will be in that location. However, if you decide to plead guilty to the offence, you may be able to waive it to another location for the purpose of a guilty plea and sentencing. A waiver is a document that states that you are pleading guilty and that the Crown Counsel agrees to have the Crown Counsel at your chosen courthouse deal with the matter. You start this process by filling out and printing a Request for Waiver Form. Once you have filled out this form, take it to the Crown Counsel office at the courthouse where you have been charged. They will tell you at your next court appearance whether the waiver has been approved.
(For general information on being charged with a criminal or youth offence, see "I've been charged with a criminal (or youth) offence and have to go to court" in this Guide.)
|You can often have a charge waived from another province or territory of Canada to be dealt with by guilty plea in British Columbia. The process is similar but other provinces have different forms and procedures. Contact Service BC for the number of the government information service for the other province or territory, which can give you contact information for the Crown Counsel office where the charges originated.|
- Before you decide to plead guilty, get and read the disclosure, information or indictment, and the Crown Counsel’s initial sentencing position for your case in the "I've Been Charged with a Criminal Offence" section of this Guide.
- If you then decide to plead guilty and you want to do so in a different courthouse, you need to fill in a waiver form. You can get a Request for Waiver form online or from a court registry. You can find the address and contact information for a court registry through Service BC. You do not need to fill in the date of your court attendance at the new location. Crown Counsel will do that. Mail, fax or deliver the waiver form to the Crown Counsel office in charge of the area where the offence took place (the originating office).
- Make sure you attend any scheduled court appearances, either at the originating location or at the location where you are waiving the charges to. Note that you can have an agent attend for you if you have been charged with a summary offence or you have a lawyer who has filed the necessary form, called a Counsel Designation Notice but you must attend the sentencing hearing in person. A designated counsel cannot do this for you.
|When filling out the waiver form, put the address of the originating Crown Counsel office in the "from" box at the top right of the form. Put the address of the Crown Counsel office responsible for the courthouse you want to waive the charge(s) to in the "to" box.|
What happens next
The originating Crown Counsel will consider whether or not to approve the waiver. In some cases they will consult the Crown Counsel in charge of the area where you want to waive the charges to. (In fact, Crown Counsel in either location can generally approve a waiver.)
If Crown Counsel approves the waiver, a court date will be set for you in the new location. Crown Counsel may advise you of this new date but it is your responsibility to make sure you know when and where your next court date is. If you don’t know your next court date and haven’t heard from the originating Crown Counsel for more than a week, you should contact their office.
|Although the above procedure applies to indictable offences as well as summary offences (indictable offences are considered more serious than summary offences), waiving charges that have already been moved to the BC Supreme Court may be difficult. Consult a lawyer if this is your situation.|
Where to get help
See the Resource List in this Guide for a list of helpful resources. Your best bets are:
- Service BC at 1-800-663-7867 for the location and number of court registries and Crown Counsel offices in British Columbia. If the offence took place in a different province or territory of Canada, Service BC may be able to provide you with the general enquiry number for that province or territory.
- Criminal duty counsel, for assistance on the day you have to appear in court.
- Native Courtworkers and First Nations Court Duty Counsel for aboriginal clients.
- Access Pro Bono, Lawyer Referral Service, and private bar lawyers.
- The Clicklaw common question "I've been charged with a crime. How do I defend myself?".
- The fact sheet series "Defending Yourself" from Legal Services Society.
Before meeting with a lawyer or advocate, complete the form, Preparing for Your Interview included in this Guide. Make sure you bring copies of all documents relating to your case.
|This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by Lisa J. Helps, May 2017.|
|Legal Help for British Columbians © Cliff Thorstenson and Courthouse Libraries BC is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.|
The testing of the claims at issue in a court proceeding at a formal hearing before a judge with the jurisdiction to hear the proceeding. The parties present their evidence and arguments to the judge, who then makes a determination of the parties' claims against one another that is final and binding on the parties unless appealed. See "action," "appeal," "argument," "claim," "evidence" and "jurisdiction."
A legal document setting out either a claim or a defence to a claim prepared at or following the start of a court proceeding. In the Provincial Court, the pleadings are the Application to Obtain an Order and Reply. In the Supreme Court, the pleadings include the Notice of Family Claim, Response to Family Claim, Counterclaim, Petition and Response to Petition. See "action," "claim" and "Counterclaim."
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In law, in British Columbia a person under the age of 19.
A central office, located in each judicial district, at which the court files for each court proceeding in that district are maintained, and at which legal documents can be filed, searched, and reviewed.
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A person licensed to practice law in a particular jurisdiction. See "barrister and solicitor."
In law, any proceeding before a judicial official to determine questions of law and questions of fact, including the hearing of an application and the hearing of a trial. See "decision" and "evidence."
A lawyer; the advice given by a lawyer to their client.
A lawyer or a person other than a lawyer who helps clients with legal issues; to argue a position on behalf of a client.
In law, a court proceeding; a lawsuit; an action; a cause of action; a claim. Also the historic decisions of the court. See "action," "case law, " "court proceeding," and "precedent."