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Canada's Criminal Trial Procedures
Transcript of Canada's Criminal Trial Procedures
Courts in Canada
The Federal and Provincial governments are responsible for Canada's criminal courts.
The Federal government regulates criminal law and is responsible for the courts at the federal level. Examples: The Supreme Court of Canada, The Federal Court of Canada.
The Provincial government's court system is composed of many different courts, at different levels. The courts include the Superior Court of the province which have trial and appeal divisions, and the Provincial Courts have Trial Divisions.
After the Cross-Examination, the Crown Attorney may question the witness again. This re-examination can be done to clarify the witness's testimony and statements, or to make sure there is clarity in new issues that have been raised. This form of examination is called Redirect Examination. However, the Crown may only question the witness about the issues that have been raised in the Defence Attorney's re-examination.
After the Crown Attorney has fully presented his/her case, the Defence Lawyer may present his/her case. The Defence is not able to present any evidence. The Defence, can however present evidence in the form of witnesses. The Crown can also cross-examine the witnesses of the Defence and the Defence can redirect examine afterward. After all the witnesses and evidences have been presented by their lawyers, they must conclude their arguments by stating whether or not the accused should be found guilty or not. The court then decides whether or not to convict the accused.
In a trial with a jury, the judge will inform the jury of the law involved. The jury listens to the case and decides if the accused is guilty or not. In trials without a jury, the judge decides the guilt.
After all the evidence and facts have been assessed, there are three possibilities: guilty, not guilty or a hung jury. A hung jury is when the jury is not able to reach a unanimous decision. If the judge or jury finds the accused nto guilty, the accused will be free to go and he/she cannot be tried again under the same charge.
In terms of the Criminal Division of Canada, the Provincial Court is the lowest level. Provincial government judges are appointed by the Province, and the cases are tried by only the judges. These courts have the ability to hear Summary Convictions Offences, and some Indictable Offences.
Summary Conviction Offences:
Minor offences that are less serious and have lesser penalties.
Very serious crimes that have high penalties.
A person dealing with crimes, will first go to a provincial court. This court will conduct preliminary hearings.
An offence that can be considered as either of the two types of offences.
An inquiry done in court, to determine whether the presented evidence is enough to conduct a trial with the accused.
A request to a higher level court to reassess the decision made by a lower court.
An appeal regarding a summary conviction offence will be tried by a judge of a Superior Court. For an appeal of an indictable offence, it will be tried by three to five judges, by the Appeals Division of the Superior Court.
In terms of the Superior Courts of the Province, they are the highest criminal and civil courts in the provinces. There are Trial and Appeal divisions. These courts have regulating powers over the lower level courts. The option of being tried by a judge and jury is available.
Cases are heard by a judge in the Provincial Court, and by a judge and a jury in the Superior Court. Appeals from the Superior Court are tried in the Appeal Division of the Superior Court. Cases are heard by three to five judges and the judgement is based on the votes of the majority of the judges.
Evidence is a way for the Crown and Defence Lawyers to tell the stories of their sides. Only relevant evidence is allowed in trials. There are many types of evidence: Witness Testimony, Physical Evidence, and Circumstantial Evidence.
The evidence given by witnesses, are direct evidence, and it is a description of the occurrence of the events from the perspective of the witness. The witness can be questioned by both lawyers, to determine the validity of the witness's testimony. Hearsay Evidence is not allowed, as it is not considered first hand knowledge. The witness must have seen or heard the events first hand in order for their testimony to be valid and credible.
Physical Evidence is the physical characteristics that are left behind and are involved in the crime, including bodily fluids such as blood, semen, hair, fibre samples, fingerprints, or weapons found at the scene of the crime. Currently, DNA analysis is an increasing method used in trials. These forms of forensic evidence are presented in court, through testing the evidences.
Circumstantial Evidence is indirect evidence that may be able to connect the accused to the crime.
If either of the sides have reason to believe that certain evidence should not be allowed in court, the procedure, Voir Dire should be followed. If the evidence is considered as inadmissible, the jury will not be informed of the evidence. The judge will remain during the Voir Dire, but will not count the evidence, if it is deemed invalid.
Preliminary Inquiry and Trial
The Preliminary Hearing occurs to determine whether there is enough evidence to carry on a full trial and to prove that the accused is guilty
beyond a reasonable doubt
. The Crown, and the Defence lawyers question witnesses, and the victim(s), and present evidence and arguments supporting their cases. If there is not enough evidence, the charges will be dropped. After the trial, if the accused is found guilty, a sentence will be donned.
An agreement between the Crown and Defence Lawyers of a charge that should be laid on the accused. Otherwise, the judgement of the judge will be followed. This is beneficial for the victim as well, because there is certainty of a punishment, and the victim can be spared the emotional trauma of testifying and being questioned. The judge makes the final decision regarding the acceptance of pleas.
A Trial ensures that the Crown and Defence Lawyers both are given fair chances to present their cases. The Judge decides whether the evidence can prove beyond a reasonable doubt, the guilt of the accused. An important Canadian principle states that "The accused is innocent until proven guilty." The trial is started by the presentation of evidence by the Crown Attorney. Witnesses are calld, evidenc is introuced and arguments are presented. Witnesses are first questioned by te Crown Attorney, which is called Direct Examination. After the Crown's questioning, the Defence Attorney may be able to question the Crown's witnesses which is called Cross-Examination.
Canada's Court Systems
The Federal Court of Canada:
A court that try cases regarding the federal government and is composed of a Trial and Appeal Division.
Supreme Court of Canada:
The highest level of court of Appeal in Canada, which regards cases dealing with constitutional issues brought from the Federal Government. There is a Chief Justice, and eight other justices, who are appointed by the federal government. Three of the judges are from Quebec, three are from Ontario, two are from the Western Provinces and one from the Atlantic Provinces. Trials are judged by five, seven, or nine judges.
In conclusion, the procedure should always be followed in terms of trials, to ensure uniformity, and impartiality in the legal system. There should be no bias, and unfairness in courts.
The Judge is responsible for listening and assessing the cases tried in court. If there is no jury, the judge has the power to decide the consequences of the specific infringement of the law. The Crown is responsible for proving beyond a reasonable doubt the guilt of the accused. If the Crown cannot prove the guilt, without doubt, the Judge will find the accused not guilty. If the person is found to be guilty, a punishment will be donned. A Sentencing Hearing may be held on another day. The Judge is seated at the front of the courtroom and ensures the regulation of rules and makes sure that everyone is doing their job.
The person charged with the crime, is called the Accused. The Law ensures that the accused hears the testimonies of the witnesses regarding the crime. The accused will be allowed to be in the ourtroom during the trial. The Accused has the right to remain silent at the trial.
The Crown Attorney represents the government in court cases. He/she works for the provinces of territories. Overall, society is being represented by the Crown. The Crown Prosecutor may work with the victim and the witnesses, but he/she is not the lawyer of the victim. During trials, in court, the Crown Attorney presents the evidence involving the crime by inquiring the victim and the witnesses. The Burden of Proof rests with the Crown, and he/she must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused is guilty. The Accused is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
The Defence Attorney is the lawyer that represents the person accused with the crime. Their job is to ensure that the court, hears the point of view of the accused person. The Defence Lawyer will make sure the accused person's side of the occurence of events has been heard by the court. They are also responsible for assessing the evidence carefully. After the Crown has finished their examinations, the Defence Attorney may ask questions, which is called a Cross-Examination.
The Victims that appear in court are protected by a Victim/Witness Program. The Victim/ Witness Program workers ensure that the victims of a crime are always supported throughout all the processes of the court system. These Court workers provide people with information about how the legal and court systems work. Workers ensure that the victims are all treated equally, with respect and receive all the resources needed.
Principles of Criminal Law
There are some basic values that are preserved in court, concerning the accused.
1. An accused person is to be considered innocent until found guilty by the court.
2. The Crown Attorney must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant is guilty.
3. Most court trials happen in public, unless under certain circumstances.
The defendant is informed about his/her charges, and he/she chooses t plead guilty or not guilty. If the accused pleads guilty, the judge will don a sentence.
If the defendant does not plead guilty, the judge will set another date for a trial. The procedure is folowed. First, Release Hearing (Bail Hearing), Disclosure, Preliminary Inquiry, Trial.
Release (Bail) Hearing
An accused who is in custody at the time of the arraignment, they must be released, unless the Crown objects to the release and ensures that the court is given good reason of the necessity of the accused to stay in custody. If the accused is let free, there will be prohibitions imposed on their freedom.
If the accused is found guilty, the judge may choose many different sentencing methods.
The person involved may have to pay a fine to compensate for their actions.
Conditional Sentence of Imprisonment
If the sentence of jail time is less than two years, with no other minimum sentence prescribed by law, the judge can allow the accused to serve the sentence in the community as long as they do not pose a danger to society. The accused must agree to the certain conditions.
The Criminal Code outlines the time of imprisonment for specific cases.
An appeal may be applied for, if the Accused or the Crown Attorney requests it. The case will be sent to higher level courts.
A probation order ensures that there are certain conditions laid out for the accused, that is deemed appropriate depending on the crime committed. The victim, may also be able to suggest restrictions that should be imposed on the accused.
The Victim is the one who was the most affected by the action and may have possibly filed the case, in certain circumstances.
The purpose of a jury is to ensure that the public is involved in the legal sytem of Canada. The Jury consists of 12 poeple (men and women). The names of the jurors are chosen randomly from the voting list, and then they are sent a questionnaire, to determine their eligibility. Jurors must be Canadian Citizens, 18 years or older, and have no previous convictions of indictable offences. Anyone in the law enforcement profession cannot be jurors. The jury is then selected by the Crown, the Defence and the Accused. The Crown or Defence Lawyer may not want a juror, to maintain impartiality and may challenge them for having bias, Challenge For Cause, or in a Peremptory Challenge, a juror ca be dismissed without explanation. The Jury is responsible for listening to the facts, evidence, and witnesses, and determine their validity in the certain case. The Judge instructs them about the legal aspect of things.
"Justice is Blind."