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Canada (162,412)
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SOC209H5 (126)
Chapter 1

Chapter 1- Criminal Justice Overview

5 Pages

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Jennifer Carlson

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The Criminal Justice Overview: Chapter 1 What is the Criminal Justice System? The criminal justice system is generally considered to contain all of the agencies, organizations, and personnel involved in the prevention of and response to crime and dealing with persons charged with criminal offences, and persons convicted of crimes. Most who work in the justice systems are government employees. Only a fraction of criminal cases committed come to attention of the police, even less is heard in courts. The Role and Responsibilities of Governments in Criminal Justice  The basic division is that the federal government decides which behaviours constitute criminal offences, while the provincial/ territorial governments are responsible for law enforcement and for administering the justice system, this is written in the Constitution Act. Federal Government: Parliament in Ottawa has the absolute power to create, amend, and repeal criminal law for the entire country. It also sets the procedures for prosecuting persons charged with criminal offences and establishes the punishments that will be imposed for all federal offences. Federal Offences: Criminal code: federal legislation that sets out criminal laws, procedures for prosecuting federal offences, and sentences and procedures for administration of justice. Other Federal Statutes: Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms: a component of the Constitution Act that guarantees basic rights and freedoms; primary law of the land; equality rights for citizens and non-citizens. The Portfolio of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness: includes key federal agencies responsible for public safety and security Federal Police: The RCMP operates as a federal police force in Canada. Federal Prosecutors, Courts and Judges: is staffed by lawyer agents and full time prosecutors, and the Minister of Justice appoints the judges. Federal Corrections: oversees federal correctional institutes and responsibility extends with to the post-release supervision of federal offenders. Provincial/ Territorial Offences, Provincial Police, Provincial Prosecutors, Courts and Judges, Provincial/ Territorial Corrections. The Criminal Justice Process: provides insight into the actual dynamics of criminal justice, how decisions are made by just personnel and challenges they face, the role of victims, and initiatives that are taken to perfect the just system. The Canadian criminal justice system is an adversarial system: a justice system in which advocates for each part present their cases before a neutral judge or a jury. Ex) defence lawyer and prosecutor Important principles:  Presumption of innocence: a defendant is deemed innocent of the charge(s) until either convicted or acquitted.  The Crown bears the burden of proof: It is the task of the Crown to prove guilt, not the responsibility of the accused to prove his or her innocence. The Criminal Justice Overview: Chapter 1  Doli incapax (Latin for “too young for evil”): a child under 12 cannot be held criminally responsible or prosecuted for criminal acts.  Insanity: no is criminally responsible and liable to punishment if incapable of knowing the act was wrong owing to a mental disorder.  Attempts are crimes: those who attempt crimes commit an offence and are generally subject to half the penalty that the completed act would draw. The basic purpose of the adversarial system is that the truth will emerge from materials presented and the issue of whether to place the defendant on the stand is a crucial concern because they might not tell their story in the best light and may have difficulty answering questions when being cross-examined. The process encourages the parties to present a distorted version of events. There are also concerns with the quality of legal representation for many defendants and ability of the criminal justice system to solve rather than merely reacting to them.  There is discretion put on the criminal justice personnel in order to carry out tasks within the framework of written laws and policies.  Disparity: when the one criminal justice personnel could have dealt with a situation one-way compared to another, difference of opinion. The Foundation of the Legal System The Canadian legal system is one of the common law. Based on notion of precedent: “whenever a judge makes a decision that is said to be legally enforced, this decision becomes a precedent: a rule that will guide judges in making subsequent decisions in similar cases.”  The principle whereby the higher courts set precedents that lower courts must follow is known as stare decisis (Latin for “to stand by what is decided”) Rule of law: the foundation of the Canadian Legal System  All citizens are supposed to obey the law, to expect punishment if they break the law, and to look only to the legal system to respond to transgressions committed against them.  The legal system, in turn, must be fair and impartial in its responses.  Only elected officials can decide what is against the law.  A law must be written clearly so that everyone—or atleast lawyers—can understand which action or activity it is being referred to.  A law must apply equally to everyone—for example, to men and women, and to rich and poor.  To give the law “teeth,” a penalty must be defined for breaking the law.  Means all citizens are subject to law and entitles to its protections. There are two general categories of law:  Public law deals with those matters that affect society as a whole in its interactions with governments. o Types of public law: criminal law, constitutional law, administrative law, and taxation law.  Criminal law: that body of law which deals with conduct considered so harmful to society as a whole that it is prohibited by statue and prosecuted and punished by the government. The Criminal Justice Overview: Chapter 1  Private law: regulates relationships between individuals other than the state and is used to resolve disputes between private citizens. In Canadian society, criminal law:  Acts as a mechanism of social control  Maintains order  Defines the parameters of acceptable behaviour  Reduces the risk of personal retaliation (people taking law into their own hands, vigilantism)  Assists in general and specific deterrence  Serves as a means of punishment  Criminalizes behaviour  Protects group interests; and  Prevents crim
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