Chapter 9: Sentencing and Parole in Canada: Practices and Public Opinions
The structure of the Canadian Court System:
Major roles of courts in Canada include:
o Hearing evidence
o Determining guilt/ innocence
o Rendering sentencing decisions across wide range of
Courts in Canada are split into :
o Provincial /territorial courts
o Federal courts
Canadian courts form a 4 tier Hierarchy of legal superiority:
o Where the ones at the higher level of the hierarchy posses more legal authority
o Essentially bound by rulings of the courts above them.
1. Administrative Tribunals: bottom layer of hierarchy
Not officially part of court system
Responsible for resolving disputes over administrative issues in both provincial
and federal courts
Ex: disability benefits, refugee claims, employment insurance.
Ex of provincial tribunal = liquor licensing board
Ex at federal level = National parole board
2. Provincial/ Territorial courts: lowest level of the actual court hierarchy
A.k.a inferior courts
Cases heard in these courts include both
o Criminal offences: traffic violations
o Civil offences: small claims
Cases at this level specialize I particular areas:
o youth courts
o Drug treatment courts
o Domestic violence
These courts can hear appeals from administrative tribunals.
Military courts are at this ame level, they deal with offences by armed forces
members but not spoken of, but for purposes of this course wont be elaborated
3. Provincial/Territorial Superior and Federal Court of Canada: next level up,
o Act as court of first appeal from lower level courts.
o Try the most serious criminal and civil cases.
o Often involve juries
Also specialize in particular areas:
o Family law
Akin to this level is the Federal level, simply referred to as the Federal Court of
Primarily serves to:
o Review administrative decisions made by federal administrative
www.notesolution.como Ex: immigration, intellectual property, and maritime law
o Specialized court here is the:
Tax court of Canada.
4. Provincial/territorial and Federal courts of appeal: above these courts.
Function of these courts is to:
o Review decisions rendered by superior-level courts
o Do not normally conduct trials or hear evidence from witnesses
Finally top of the court chain is the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC): created in 1875
This is the final court of appeal
Case must have been appealed in relevant courts lower in the chain before comes
here. Even then there are very limited rights to appeal to the SCC.
Fuction of the SCC include:
o Guidance to the federal gov on law related matters, ex: interpretation of
the Canadian Constitution.
SCC consists of:
o 8 judges + the chief justice (currently Beverly McLachlin)
All appointed by the Federal government
Sentencing in Canada:
Process defined as:
o Judicial Determination of a legal sanction upon a person convicted of a crime
Purpose of sentencing: to change the behavior of both convicted offenders and the general public,
more specifically 2 deterrence exist:
1. Specific Deterrence: sentencing in order to reduce probability that an offender will reoffend