Introduction to Criminal Procedure
Criminal Procedure: the law that sets the rules as to how criminal offences can be investigated,
prosecuted and tried.
Criminal Code (Most of it)
Youth Criminal Justice Act
Controlled Drugs and SubstancesAct
The Charter of Rights (Determines or significantly affect many important issues in criminal
procedures; many of these rulings are very controversial).
The police uphold this responsibility.
Complaint from public
Police detecting evidence of crime perpetration – once they receive the complaint they will
investigate to confirm or refute the suspicion.
Police are given broad powers of investigation. (i.e question witness and suspects, detain
individuals, conduct surveillance, search places, seizes items, etc).
This power can be invasive and restrict individual liberty
The law of criminal procedure attempts to constrain these power so that they can only be exercised
with just cause and with due respect for the people affected.
Despite this limit the police are still given significant autonomy in their crime investigation.
The police are entitled to lay charges and arrest suspects if they deem that a crime has been carried
out. (In Canada, the police lay charges and determine who to arrest.)
Criminal Charges laid by private individuals are subject to review by the prosecution and the
They do not have the right to press charges (Their wishes are often considered.)
The Crown Attorney’s (Lawyers paid by the government - Quasi-judicial offers with multi-faceted
roles) offices uphold this responsibility.
1. Review charges to warrant the prosecution or withdraw them.
If warranted: prepare the case for trial and present the allegedly incriminating evidences
before the court.
Main goal of CA: to achieve justice and not just simply seeking conviction (even though they have
to prepare the case vigorously).
Sometimes, they even encourage the trial court to drop the charge.
They must always disclose to the accused all the evidence gathered before the trial so that
they have the full opportunity to respond (The accused does not have to disclose in advance –
some exceptions). C. Trials
Ontario Court of Justice: Most cases are tried before this
Most trials are held before a judge alone, without a jury
Super Court of Justice (Ontario): Serious cases that involve Jury trials
Judge still presides in jury trials but only act as a guidance
The nature of the alleged offence and the wishes of the accused and prosecutor will determine
which court the trial will be held at and if Jury is needed.
Types of Criminal Offences:
Indictable: generally more serious offences that allows the accused to decide her trial court and
see if a Jury is needed.
Greater penalties: up to life imprisonment.
The accused can choose whether to have a preliminary inquiry
A screening mechanism held in Ontario Court where the prosecutor presents enough
evidence to show that it COULD obtain a conviction.
The accused presents no defense and no verdict of guilty or not guilty is rendered.
Intended to screen out meritless prosecutions without forcing the accused to go through
a public trial and provide the lawyer with the opportunity to challenge the case by
questioning the witnesses for the Crown.
If fails: the accused is discharged.
If succeed: the accused is ordered to stand trial and then the trial carries in the
Summary: Generally more minor offences and the accused has no option but to be tried by judge
alone in the Ontario Court and has to right to a preliminary inquiry.
Very few purely summary conviction offences in the Criminal Code.
Usually punishable by a maximum of six months in jail and up to two years less a day.
Conviction process is easier, cheaper and faster.
Hybrid: The prosecutor gets to choose whether to use indictment or summary.
Most offences are hybrid and the prosecution tends to choose summary conviction.
Selected Topics: Focus on aspects of criminal procedure that regulate the investigation of
A. Arbitrary Detention
Police are able to detail people for investigation:
Question the detainee
Question others while ensuring that the detainee does not flee
Search the detainee for evidence of crime.
No statutory provisions regulating the police for doing so besides two sections of Charters:
8. Everyone has the right to be secure against unreasonable search or seizure.
9. Everyone has the right to be arbitrarily detailed or imprisoned.
Two officers d