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SOC209H5 (126)
Chapter 1

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Department
Sociology
Course
SOC209H5
Professor
Nathan Innocente
Semester
Fall

Description
SOC209 Week 2 Book Notes SOC209 – Chapter 1 (Griffiths) Criminal Justice System  A human enterprise that involves people (criminal justice personnel) making decisions about other people (suspects/offenders)  Includes crime prevention and crime reduction; hearing of criminal cases by courts; sentencing and administration and enforcement of court orders; parole + other forms of conditional release; supervision for ex-offenders released into the community  Only a fraction of the criminal acts committed come to the attention of the police, and only a much smaller fraction of these are heard in the courts or lead to a sentence of incarceration  Operated and controlled almost entirely by governments; parliament + provincial legislatures  Senior civil servants are appointed rather than elected  criminal justice policy + practice  Justice system includes volunteers + NGOs; private firms to protect property + maintain order in business districts  Constitution Act 1867 – spells out the division of powers  Federal – criminal offences; Provincial/Territorial – law enforcement + administering the justice system; RCMP involved in federal + provincial + municipal policing under contract and Native band councils; municipal plays lesser role in policing Federal gov’t:  Parliament in Ottawa – create, amend, repeal criminal law for entire country; also sets procedures for prosecuting persons charged with criminal offences + establishes punishments imposed for all federal offences  Operates parole board for federal inmates and for provincial/territorial inmates in jurisdictions other than Quebec and Ontario (have their own provincial parole boards) 1. Federal Offences - Criminal Code (crimes + procedures for responding to crimes listed; also sets out procedures for arrest and prosecution and penalties imposed by a judge following conviction) - Federal offences set out in various acts/statutes 2. Other Federal Statutes - Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms (part of the Constitution Act of 1982) = primary law of the land - Fundamental freedoms, legal rights, equality rights  ensures fairness during legal proceedings - Anti-Terrorism Act - Sex Offender Information Registration Act 3. The Portfolio of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness - Federal agencies responsible for public safety and security Page 1 of 10 SOC209 Week 2 Book Notes 4. Federal Police (RCMP + Military Police of Canadian Armed Forces) 5. Federal Prosecutors, Courts, and Judges - Federal Prosecution Service – conducting prosecutions across Canada on behalf of the Attorney General of Canada - Federal gov’t appoints judges for various federal courts (Supreme + Federal courts) - Federal Prime Minister of Justice appoints all of the judges in the superior trial courts in the provinces/territories 6. Federal Corrections - Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) oversees the operation of federal correctional institutions (inmates serving 2 years+); includes post-release supervision Provincial and Territorial Gov’ts:  Increasingly active in passing quasi-criminal legislation  Pass laws, oversee police services, prosecute offences, manage courthouses, employ some judges, run programs for offenders, operate correctional institutions 1. Provincial/Territorial Offences - Pass laws that come under their jurisdiction - Underage drinking, speeding, cellphone while driving 2. Provincial Police - Ontario Provincial Police, Surete du Quebec, Royal Newfoundland Constabulary - Municipal police departments in major cities - Set out policies that address training standards, public complaints process, other aspects of police practice 3. Provincial Prosecutors, Courts, and Judges - Every province + territory has an attorney general, chief law enforcement officer responsible (figuratively) for laying charges and prosecuting cases - Provincial + territorial courts hear the majority of cases - Judges usually appointed after being recommended by an independent tribunal 4. Provincial/Territorial Corrections - Operate institutional and community corrections - Non-custodial programs include probation, fine option programs, victim- offender reconciliation programs - Quebec and Ontario have parole boards for provincial offenders - Probation services, custody facilities, related programs for young offenders Municipal Gov’ts:  Enact local bylaws, valid only within city limits  No enacted bylaw can encroach on the jurisdiction of another level of gov’t Page 2 of 10 SOC209 Week 2 Book Notes The Flow of Cases Through the Justice System  The Canadian Criminal Justice system is an adversarial system (advocates for each party present their cases before a neutral judge/jury)  Contrast to inquisitorial system (in many jurisdictions in continental Europe, where judge or panel of judges assumes the role of investigating the crime)  Presumption of innocence, crown bears burden of proof (to prove guilt), doli incapax (too young for evil), insanity, attempts are crimes  Accused persons cannot be compelled to give evidence in the case  Critics  Process encourages the parties to present a distorted version of events  Quality of legal representation for many defendants  Ability of criminal justice system to solve problems rather than merely reaction to them  Latest critic  approach of therapeutic jurisprudence in problem-solving framework The Exercise of Discretion by Criminal Justice Personnel  Discretion – the freedom to choose between different options when confronted with the need to make a decision  can lead to inconsistencies in how laws are applied, how cases are processed in the courts, and what decisions are made about offenders  Factors such as personal experiences, training, religious beliefs, etc…influence criminal justice personnel when they make discretionary decisions  Disparity – making different decisions in a given situation (professional autonomy) From Community Control to State Law: The Centralization of Authority  Before the rise of complex societies, order was maintained through informal social controls  Behaviour was regulated by norms, folkways, and mores – strong pressures to conform  Revenge was the response to harmful acts; gossip, ridicule, expulsion from group  Lack of any formal agents of social control  No provision for ensuring offender’s rights; no fairness of the sanction process  Formal methods: laws enacted by state and enforced by designated agencies and officials  Transgression viewed as acts against society as a whole  Communities + residents became less and less involved in the process of social control  Centralization  transfer of power + authorities to gov’ts and criminal justice agencies  Recognition of limits to the effectiveness of criminal law  leading to alternative approaches such as, restorative justice, which provides the involvement of community residents and premised on a different set of principles than the adversarial system The Foundations of the Legal System  Canadian legathsystem th one of common law; originated in Europe and imported to Canada in 17 and 18 centuries Page 3 of 10 SOC209 Week 2 Book Notes  Emerged from decisions made by judges in royal courts and was based on the notion of precedent  Exists in past decisions of judges rather than being embodied in legal codes or legislation  Our law is both civil and criminal and is found in both statures and judicial precedents (case law)  Laws written down/codified in Criminal Code; but judges can interpret, modify, extend, restrict, or strike down statutory laws  Stare decisis – higher courts setting precedents that lower courts must follow  Ex: once the Supreme Court rules on a thorny legal issue, all courts below it follow that in subsequent cases  Rule of law – foundation of Canadian legal system; nobody is above the law, impartial and fair legal system responses, only elected officials can decided what’s against the law, law must be written clearly and applied equally to everyone, penalty for breaking laws Criminal Law  Public law deals with matters that affect society as a whole in its interactions with gov’ts  Four types: criminal, constitutional, administrative, taxation  Criminal law is the body of law which deals with conduct considered so harmful to society as a whole that it is prohibited by statute and prosecuted and punished by gov’t  Private law regulates relationships between individuals other than the state and is used to resolve disputes between private citizens  Limits in the extent to which criminal law can intrude on the activities of citizens that are conducted within the confines of their home (ex: R. v. Clark) Criminal Law vs. Civil Law  Criminal justice system – only offenders who are alleged to be criminally liable for wrongdoing; entire process paid by public’s tax dollars  Civil law is a general category of laws relating to contracts, torts, inheritances, divorce, custody of children, ownership of property, etc; all statute laws other than criminal law, such as divorce law and human rights law  Most common types of civil suits involve divorce, disputes over inheritance, and breaches of contract; civil court can freeze assets obtained as proceeds of crime  Criminal – prosecutor has to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt  Civil - liability is determined by the standard of the balance of probabilities What is a Crime?  Crime is an act that is prohibited by criminal law  2 critical elements of a crime are the : i) Actus Reus - commission of an act ii) Mens Rea - the mental intent to commit the act  A crime occurs when a person: i) commits an act (or fails to commit) an act when under a legal responsibility to do so; Page 4 of 10 SOC209 Week 2 Book Notes ii) has the intent, or mens rea, to commit the act; iii) doesn't have a legal defence or justification for committing the act; iv) violates a provision in criminal law Principles of Canadian Law  # of principles that provide the foundation for Canadian law : 1) An act does not make a person guilty unless he or she has a guilty mind. To be convicted of most crimes, a person must have done something criminal & usually (but not always) must have intended to do it. → A few offences impose "strict" or "absolute" liability, in that Crown need not prove mens rea. Possession of burglary instruments is an ex. Children under 12 & the insane are deemed unable to form mens rea &  will not be held criminally responsible for their actions. 2) No crime w/o a law, no punishment w/o a law. → Means that rules can't be changed in the middle of the game. Laws can't be applied retroactively. 3) Ignorance of the law is no excuse. → Formal expectation that every citizen be familiar w/ all the laws &  able to distinguish b/w legal & illegal behaviour. This expectation is a fiction b/c the law is constantly changing & is subject to debate & differing interpretations. 4) No one is compelled to incriminate himself. → Criminal suspects & defendants have the right to remain silent during the police investigation. If they are forced/threatened to make a confession, that statement will be inadmissible in court. Also, a crim defendant may choose not to testify in his defence. This principle is enshrined in the Charter. 5) No one should be twice troubled by the same cause. → A.k.a preclusion of "double jeopardy". An alleged offender can't, under most situations, be tried twice for the same offence. However, an alleged offender in Canada can be retried after being acquitted if the Crown succes
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