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Transcript of Criminology 103
What Not to Do in Court
Drug Treatment Courts
THE CRIMINAL COURTS
The Supreme Court of Canada
The “court of last resort” -- the Supreme Court of Canada -- is located in Ottawa but hears cases from all provinces and territories.
The Supreme Court of Canada was established under the Constitution Act (1867), which authorized Parliament to establish a general court of appeal for Canada.
The governor in council appoints the nine judged of the Supreme Court; those chosen must be superior court judges or lawyers with at least ten years’ standing at the bar in a province or territory.
The appointees are selected from the major regions in the country; however, three of the judges must be from Quebec. ( To ensure that the court has sufficient expertise in the province’s civil law code).
The decisions of the supreme court are final and cannot be appealed. However, in some instances Parliament has passed legislation in response to a decision of the Supreme Court that has effectively changed the result of the decision. An example is the case of R. v. Feeney.
The Criminal Courts
Drug treatment courts are an alternative forum for responding to offenders who have been convicted of drug-related offences. The roles of the judge and the prosecution and defence lawyers are altered in drug courts. Total abstience from drugs is not mandatory; however, in order to remain in the program, offenders have to report relapses to program staff and demonstrate a reduction in their level of drug dependency. On completing the program, those who have been charged with less serious offences may have the charges stayed or withdrawn, people with more serious crimes may receive probation. People who fail the program are processed through the regular courts.
The process for disposing of cases has changed little over the past two centuries but the cases are more complex than they once were. Legal issues are more challenging and the work loads are heavier.
With the exception of Nunavut, there are four levels of court the deal with criminal cases: provincial/territorial courts, provincial superior courts, provincial appellate courts, and the Supreme Court of Canada.
Courts are responsible for determining the guilt or innocence of accused persons and for imposing an appropriate sentence on those who are convicted.
They are also responsible for ensuring that the rights of accused persons are protected.
Canadians believe that the principle of judicial independence is essential to the proper functioning of the courts.
Every province and territory has a provincial and superior court.
The only exception is Nunavut because the Nunavut Court of Justice is a“unified” or single-level court, which means that the powers of the Territorial Court and Northwest Territories Supreme Court have been combined into one superior court that can hear any type of case.
Provincial Courts are the lowest level of courts and nearly all criminal cases are begun and disposed in them.
Provincial courts hear cases under the Youth Criminal Justice Act and cases involving alleged offenses against provincial statutes.
Provincial Courts include family courts and small claims courts.
The Provincial Court
In British Columbia all cases heard in the Provincial Courts fall under four main categories:
Criminal and Youth Matters, hears crimes such as theft under $5000, mischief, simple assaults, and more serious crimes, such as aggravated sexual assault and kidnapping if the accused chooses to be tried in the court.
With more serious crimes such as murder, break and enter, or kidnapping the accused has the right to choose to be tried in either Provincial Court or Supreme Court.
Youth matters includes virtually all criminal cases involving youth between ages 7-12, including murder cases.
Children under 7 cannot be criminally charges, but family court can hold a trial regarding their care of the child and their safety.
Family Matters, hears about 50% of all family law cases. Involves helping families to solve problems when children have been neglected or abused and when there are issues arising from a family breakup.
Cases involving the custody, or guardianship, or access to, or child support of children can be heard in either Provincial or Supreme Court, but cases involving divorce, adoptions or the division of family property is heard in the Supreme Court.
Small Claims Matters, all civil lawsuits for claims less than $25,000.
Traffic and Bylaw Matters, involves traffic ticket infractions like running a red light, speeding or for parking violations. Also by-law offences such as walking a dog without a leash.
Provincial Court Cont'd
Are appointed by the provincial governments
Judges sit without juries
Every judge is appointed for life and the removal of a judge before retirement can only happen as a result of inappropriate behavior or inability to perform duties properly.
Currently there are about 150 Provincial Court Judges in various locations throughout the province.
Most judges work full-time, but judges who are 55 or older, with ten years of service, may elect to hold office as a part-time judge.
About 150 Provincial Court judges work in more than 80 locations throughout the province to hear in excess of 240,000 cases per year.
Provincial Court Judges
• Enter and leave the courtroom quietly and stand when a judge enters and exits.
• Do not talk in court or discuss trial proceedings in the halls.
• Do not make visible or audible signs of annoyance (ie. rolling eyes or loud sighs).
• Remember that gum, food, hats, recording devices, cameras, weapons, and standing while court is in session are not permitted.
• Turn off pagers and cell phones.
• Try not to go in and out of a courtroom until there is a break in the proceedings, as it distracts the judge, witness and counsel.
• If the trial is in closing argument, stay until a court break is called.
Superior Courts are the highest level of courts in a province.
Administered by the provincial government.
The name of the superior court usually its locations (ex the Manitoba Court of Queen’s Beach).
Only about 10% of criminal cases are heard in superior courts.
Superior courts have two levels:
Hears cases involving all criminal offences besides murder by adults or other certain serious offences such as treason.
(Explained under appeals)
Each Aboriginal court will reflect the local Aboriginal culture and therefore be unique. -Aboriginal Courts would include traditional forms of dispute resolution and may also include elders and peacemakers.
Smudging with sweet grass or sage, or using eagle feathers or eagle down.
Aboriginal people resolve problems in a manner that is culturally appropriate and holistic, and that promotes balance and healing as in Provincial Courts where people are always sentenced.
Aboriginal Courts were created because there is still racism present in the justice system and Aboriginal people are over-incarcerated, therefore the courts are designed to make sure racism does not take place in any court case and to allow aboriginal people the chance to be help through traditional ways, rather than being sentence with a fine or to jail.
Aboriginal Courts deal with traditional law or Aboriginal laws and cultures are included in most Aboriginal Courts.
Aboriginal Courts Con't
The Gladue Court is an Aboriginal Court in Toronto that meets twice a week and deals with aboriginal people who have been charged in downtown Toronto.
It handles bail hearings, remands, trials, and sentencing.
The judge, crown, defense lawyers, court clerks, and the court workers are all Aboriginal persons.
As cases are processed, every attempt is made to find other possible sentencing options and alternatives to imprisonment.
Tsuu T’ina Nation Peacemaker Court in Alberta involves a peacemaker working with the Crown counsel to identify cases that could appropriately be diverted to the community’s peacemaking program.
Cases that are diverted are adjourned by the court so that a Peacemaker can open a restorative justice process involving the victim, the accused, elders, and community residents.
The goal is to facilitate healing and address issues associated with the harm done, which includes apologies, restitution payments, alcohol or drug treatment programs, and the requirement that the offender hold a traditional feast.
Once this process is completed the case returns to court and the presiding judge considers outcomes of the peacemaking process in passing sentence.
Regina v. Doucet
A Nova Scotia women hired a hit man to kill her husband but what she didn't know was that the hit man she was hiring was really an undercover police officer. Doucet was charged in counseling to commit a murder in 2008. In her defense she stated that she had no other way to get out of her 15 year marriage were her husband constantly threatened their daughter and her.
Doucet was acquitted of the charge two years later but only after the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal upheld the ruling saying the marriage accounted for a "reign of terror". The defense lawyer used the defense of duress at first but later changed the defense to self-defense due to a mix up.
Regina v. Whatcott
In 2001 and 2002, Whatcott distributed homemade flyers throughout Canada. In one, he challenged a proposal to teach students in Grades 3 and 4 about homosexuality, stating: “Our children will pay the price in disease, death, abuse and ultimately eternal judgment if we do not say no to the sodomite desire to socialize your children into accepting something that is clearly wrong.” Whatcott was fined $17,500 in damages by the Human Rights Tribunal ruled but that ruling was over turned by The Saskatchewan Court of Appeal. This case went all to way to the Supreme Court of Canada. Whatcott's defense was freedom of speech.
Whatcott was found guilty of hate speech by the Supreme Court of Canada by a vote of 4-3.
Regina v. Latimer
Robert Latimer convicted of murdering his disabled daughter Tracy Latimer. Tracy Latimer, was 12-years-old and had cerebral palsy. As a result, she was quadriplegic, could not speak, and had the mental abilities of an infant. However, she was not dying of her disability. It was also believed that a feeding tube could help her health, but her parents believed such a medical device would be "intrusive." Thus, numerous surgeries were performed, and after the scheduling of another surgery in 1993, Mr. Latimer, who viewed the upcoming operation as also being cruel, "formed the view that his daughter's life was not worth living." Mr. Latimer thus poisoned his daughter with carbon monoxide. The defense of necessity was used at the trail.
Robert Latimer was sentenced to only 1 year in prision at first because but the Criminal Code stated he must be punished for 10 years. He appealed to the Supreme Court of Canada were they sentenced him to 10 years in prison. The defense of necessity was not successfully used because this defense can only be used when their is no other choice.
Court of Appeal
Mental Health Court
In each province and territory there is one court of appeal, expect Quebec and Alberta. The primary activities of appeal courts centre on reviewing decisions of the lower courts. The focus is on how the law was applied to the facts in the case. Lawyers for both parties make oral arguments to a three-judge panel. Appeal courts are composed of three-judges, and the decision is a group decision, unlike trial court judges who work alone.
The objectives of he mental health court are to address pre-trial issues of the accused person's fitness to stand trial and to reduce the "revolving door" syndrome of reoffending and involvement in the justice system of mentally ill persons. Compounding the challenges of addressing the needs of this population is that many mentally ill persons also have substance abuse issues.
Their are 4 levels of court that deal with criminal cases with the exception of one province/ territory?
Is having a jury an option in Provincial Court?
Their is 1 court of appeal in all provinces except for 2, which province and territory?
Why were Aboriginal Courts created?
Racism in the justice system.
Aboriginals were over-incarcerated,
it was designed to end racism and
allowed Aboriginals to get together
to help in traditional ways.
Name the four levels in court in order that are in all provinces and territories except Nunavut?
Provincial/ Territorial Court
Provincial Supreme Court
Provincial Court of Appeal
Supreme Court of Canada