WDW210 Lecture 5

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Woodsworth College Courses
Jim Davies

FEB 4 , 2013 WDW210 Lecture 5 Introduction to the Criminal Court System and Pre-trial Decision Making Canadian Criminal Courts - Thirteen provincial/territorial courts and one federal court - Permanent courts (and court buildings) exist in large urban areas - Circuit courts exist in small, rural communities. o Schedule court dates as per need - At the provincial level there is a major difference between courts of “limited” jurisdiction and courts of “general” jurisdiction. Courts of Limited Jurisdiction (Lower Courts) - Deal with most minor criminal matters (summary offences). - Conduct bail hearings/remand court - Some specialized courts (e.g., motor vehicle violations) in major urban centres. - A single magistrate (judges, justice of the peace, etc.) makes all the decisions. o No jury trial - These magistrates provide law enforcement agents with search warrants, subpoenas, summonses and remand warrants. Courts of General Jurisdiction (Higher Courts) - Deal with the most serious criminal offences (indictable offences) - Trial by judge (sitting alone) or by judge and jury. o Judge alone or judge and jury - Specialized courts have also appeared within courts of general jurisdiction (including special drug courts or courts dealing with family violence). o Special court for street crimes Appeal Courts - Occurs when the defense or crown is not happy with the outcome of the decision/sentencing - Appeal courts appear at both the provincial and federal level. - In appeal courts, a number of judges hear and decide on cases where the convicted individual or the Crown prosecutor is appealing a decision made by the lower courts. - The Supreme Court of Canada is the highest appeal court in the nation. - The Supreme court of Canada only hears 100-140 cases per year. Cases are “hand- picked” by judicial sub-committees because they involve issues of general importance. The Appeal Process - Both the defendant and the Prosecution have the right to appeal. - The convicted person can appeal the conviction, the sentence or being found mentally unfit to stand trial (NCR) - The accused may appeal if it involves a point of law or a question of fact. FEB 4 , 2013 • the evidence was not obtained correctly, the substantial and procedural law was not followed correctly - The Prosecution may appeal an acquittal or a sentence on issues involving a point of law – but not on questions of fact. - The appeal court can order a new trial, change the sentence or even acquit an accused person. - Very few summary offence convictions are ever heard by the Supreme Court of Canada. Canadian Court System Supreme Court of Canada ProvincialAppeal Courts “Higher” Provincial Trial Courts “Lower” Provincial Trial Courts Criminal Trial Procedures - Pre-trial decision-making (arrest procedures, the bail decision, pre-trial release conditions); - Prosecutor Screening (e.g., decisions to proceed or dismiss charges); - The Plea (in the lower courts, approximately 90% of all accused plead guilty at their first court appearance); o Can occur at anytime of the trial - The Preliminary Hearing; o The crime must provide a review of the hearing to see if they have enough evidence to bring to case to trial (disclosure of the evidence used against them) - The Criminal Trial (the opening statement, the presentation of evidence, closing statements, the charge to the jury, the verdict, the sentencing hearing, the sentence); - The Appeals Process;
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