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David Davies

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WDW225 September 23, 2010 Nuts and Bolts of Criminal LawLecture 1
Uses of Criminal Law
1. Regulate morality
-denounce immoral conduct
-reflect societal values
2. Define the limits of acceptable behaviour
-forms the basis of the social contract
-boundaries change over time
-limited consensus of what should be crime i.e. possession of marijuana, abortion, homosexuality,
3. Justify imprisonment/deprivation of liberty
4. Protect society from harm
Other Mechanisms?
1.Informal social control community/peer pressure
2.Formal social control
-regulation (i.e. non-criminal offences, licencing etc.)
-incentive structures (i.e. Tax incentives)
-public education (i.e. MADD)
-therapeutic model
3. Nothing
-there may be things in the criminal code where you would wonder why the law exists i.e. water skiing at
Questions throughout the Course
1 what sort of activities should the state criminalize?
2 what limits should be placed on the states ability to enact criminal law?
3 what should the role of the courts be in defining/applying criminal law?
Players in the System?
-enact legislation
-investigate crime
3.Crown attorney
-prosecute crime
4.Defence counsel
-defend those accused of crime
-interpret legislation, strike down unconstitutional legislation, apply legislation, determine
guilt/innocence, impose sentence
What is a Crime?
Basic Definition:
Crime = Prohibited Act + Potential for Penal Sanction
Distinguishing CRIME from other prohibited or regulated conduct which carries potential for penalties
-parking enforcement
-owning an illegal pit bull
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-operating a hot dog stand without a license
After the criminal is convicted, they can be released on bail hearing or held in jail until their court date
Remand is an appearance/check in with the court to tell them any updates, not actual trial
Crimes vs. prohibited acts it is necessary for there to be a penal sanction (fine, charge etc. )
Source of Crimes in Canada
Only the Federal government has the power to enact criminal law in Canada
-s.91 and s.92 of the Constitution
-set out the powers of Federal and Provincial governments
-s.91(27) gives federal government exclusive authority over criminal law
-s.92 gives the provincial legislature the authority over the administration of justice in the province
including the constitution, maintenance and organization of criminal courts
-s.92 gives the provincial legislation the authority over the imposition of punishment
This creates an overlap between federal government power to enact crime, and provincial court
Main Sources of Crimes in Canada
1.Criminal Code of Canada
-first enacted in 1892
-amended from time to time
-doesnt cover any drug-related offences
2.Controlled Drugs and Substances Act
-contains all drug offences
-enacted in 1996
-divides different drugs into different schedules
-replaced the Narcotics Control Act
Category of Offences
1.Summary Conviction Offence
-most minor offences, carry a maximum penalty of 6 months in jail
-there are some offences called Super Summary Offences, up to 18 months in jail
-examples: harassing phone calls (s.372(2)), carrying a weapon to a public meeting (s.89), possession of a
small amount of marijuana (CDSA, s.4(5)), waterskiing at night (s.250(2))
2.Indictable Offences
-most serious offences
-examples: murder (s.229), cause explosion (s.81, importing/exporting weapons (s.103(1)), trafficking
cocaine/oxycontine (CDSA, s.5(3)(a))
3.Hybrid Offences
-majority of offences
-the Crown decides whether these cases will proceed by summary conviction or indictment
-example: assault (s.266), sexual assault (s.271), false fire alarm (s.437), promoting hatred (s.319(2)), theft
under $5000 (s.334(b)), trafficking anabolic steroids (CDSA, s.5(3)(c))
Most indictable offences may be tried in one of three ways; by judge and jury, by judge alone, or by
provincial court judge
-certain indictable offences must be tried only by a superior court judge with a jury, others may only be
heard by a provincial court judge alone
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