Warrants for the Arrest of Witnesses

Warrants for the Arrest of Witnesses

DATE: May 20, 2008



To provide the procedure and the criteria for dealing with bench warrants that have been issued for missing witnesses pursuant to ss. 704-707 of the Criminal Code of Canada or pursuant to s. 6 of the Provincial Offences Procedures Act, RSA 2000, c. P-34, in respect of a trial that has proceeded to completion.


In a situation where a warrant for a witness is outstanding, the Crown prosecutor shall, at the completion of the trial advise the presiding judge or justice that the outstanding warrant exists.

In proceedings commenced pursuant to the Criminal Code of Canada, while the Crown prosecutor may apply for an order vacating the outstanding warrant, it is an appropriate exercise of prosecutorial discretion for the Crown prosecutor to permit the warrant to remain outstanding so that a witness (who, for example, has demonstrated contempt for the subpoena or order for attendance) is required to answer for his or her failure to attend court.

In Criminal Code of Canada proceedings, if the presiding judge or justice directs that a warrant remain outstanding, then, upon the arrest of the witness, he or she shall be brought before the judge or justice to be dealt with according to s. 708 of the Criminal Code (contempt).