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Chapter 7

SOC 1500 Chapter 7: Chapter 7

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SOC 1500
Stephanie Howells

Chapter 7 The Structure and Operation of the Criminal Courts  The criminal courts play an important, multifaceted role in Canada’s criminal justice system  There seems to mystery about what the courts do because the activities of the Crown and defence lawyers are much less visible than the activities of the police  Cases are more complex than ever as legal issues are more challenging – due to the Charter of the Freedoms  The 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  The principle of judicial independence is viewed as essential to the proper functioning of the courts. This principle holds that citizens have the right to have their cases tried by tribunals that are fair, impartial and immune from political interference  Canada does not have a uniform court system- this leads to considerable confusion when the provincial and federal courts are discussed  With the exception of Nunavut, Canadian jurisdictions have 4 levels of courts that deal with criminal cases: provincial and territorial courts, provincial and territotial superior courts, provincial and territorial courts, provincial and territorial Canada.  Nunavut has a unified or single level court (The Nunavut Court of Justice)  The cases most frequently heard in criminal court are impaired drivings (11 percent), theft (1) and common assault. In the end, 3% is the acquittal rate The Provincial and Terriorial Court System  The court system has 2 levels: provincial and superior  SEE FIGURE 7.1 FOR CRIMINAL COURT SYSTEMS  The provincial and territorial courts are the lowest level of courts; nearly all criminal cases begin with them  Their judges are appointed by the provinces and territories, which also fund these courts and have jurisdiction over them  Provincial and territorial courts judges sit without juries. These courts also hear cases under the Youth Criminal Justice Act and cases involving alleged offences against provincial or territorial statues Provincial and Territorial Specialized Problem-Solving Courts  In recent years, a number of specialized, problem solving courts have been developed that attempt to divert offenders with special needs from the criminal justice system.  These specialized courts include community courts, drug courts and mental health, among others  Problem solving courts- Specialized courts that are designed to divert offender with special needs from the criminal justice system  DTC (drug treatment courts) target the needs of persons with addictions who are in conflict with the law; mental health courts attempt to address the needs of persons with mental illness (PwMI) who came into conflict with the law  The three defining attributes of problem-solving courts are: o 1. a focus on addressing the underlying problems of offenders, victims, and communities o 2. Interagency and interdisciplinary collaboration o 3. Accountability to the community - These principles are complementary to those of restorative justice. Unlike traditional courts, these community- based courts have the potential to improive the quality in communities, increase resident familiarity with the court process, and increase community satisfaction with the response to persons in conflict Traditional courts Problem-Solving court
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