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The Canadian Criminal Trial Process

The Canadian Criminal Trial Process

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The Canadian Criminal Trial Process

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  1. The Canadian Criminal Trial Process

  2. The Key Individuals in Court • There are two fundamental principles of Canada’s criminal justice system: • An accused person is innocent until proven guilty. • Guilt must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Beyond a reasonable doubtis a standard of proof whereby a defendant’s guilt must be proven to the extent that a reasonable person would have no choice but to conclude that the defendant did indeed commit the offence.

  3. The Judge • The judgeis the court official appointed to try cases in a court of law and to sentence convicted persons. • Makes decisions on such things as admissibility of evidence and interpretation of the law. • In a jury trial, the judge is the trier of law and the jury the trier of fact. The judge instructs the jury on points of law, the jury decides the verdict based on the judge’s instructions and the evidence or facts presented, and the judge sentences the person. • In a non-jury trial, the judge does both. • A Justice of the Peaceis a court official who has less authority than a judge but can issue warrants and perform other judicial functions.

  4. The Defence • The Accused or defendant is the person charged with committing a criminal offence. • Duty counselrefers to a lawyer on duty in a courtroom or police station to give free legal advice to persons just arrested or brought before the court. • Defence counselis the lawyer who defends an accused person on trial.

  5. The Prosecution • The Crown Attorney or prosecutoris the lawyer representing the government. They are responsible for bringing forward credible evidence of a crime. • Evidence is information that tends to prove or disprove the elements of an offence.

  6. Court Personnel • Court Clerk– assists the judge by keeping a record of the trial exhibits, administering oaths and announcing the beginning or end of the court session. • Court reporter– records word for word everything said during the trial. If required the reporter can produce a transcript or typed record of everything said in court. • Court security officer– handles accused persons who are in custody and helps maintain security in the courtroom. • Sheriff– responsible for the jury, including summoning, paying, secluding and guarding them. • Bailiff – court official who assists the sheriff.

  7. The Witnesses • Witnesses give evidence, under oath or affirmation, of their knowledge of the circumstances surrounding a crime. • They are compelled to appear in court by a subpoena, a court order requiring the witness to appear in court on a certain date to give evidence. • Failure of a witness to appear can result in a contempt of court charge for obstructing the course of justice and disobeying the court’s authority. • Committing perjury, knowingly making false statements in court while giving evidence, is a serious offence. The maximum penalty is 14 years in jail.

  8. The Jury • The jury is a group of 12 people who decide whether the accused is guilty or not guilty. • They are chosen by the crown and defence from a pool of ordinary citizens. • They listen to the trial, consider all the evidence and follow the judge’s instructions about the law. • They withdraw to the jury room to deliberate, consider the evidence and decide guilt or innocence. • Their decision must be unanimous!!

  9. The Criminal Trial Process • Burden of proof refers to the Crown’s obligation to prove the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. It is not up to the accused to prove innocence. • After the jury has been selected, here are the steps of a criminal trial………….

  10. The judgeexplains to the jury their role as the trier of facts. The jury then selects a foreperson who will represent them and communicate with the judge, as well as lead the jury through deliberations and read the verdict at the end of the trial. • The Crown’s opening statement. • Begins every trial, as the Crown has the burden! • It identifies the offence committed, summarizes the evidence against the accused and outlines how the crown will present its case. • Crown examines witnesses. • First examination of a witness is called direct examination, where each witness is asked to tell what he or she observed about the crime. • The defence then cross-examines the witness, to test the accuracy of the evidence or to convince the jury that there are contradictions to the witnesses testimony.

  11. 4. Motion for dismissal. • Occurs after the Crown finishes calling witnesses. • This is a request by defence counsel that the judge dismiss the charges against the defendant because the Crown failed to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. • If the judge agrees, it could result in a directed verdict, a decision by the judge to withdraw the case from the jury and enter a verdict of not guilty. • If not, the trial continues.

  12. 5. Defence Presents Opening Statement • Summarizes its case. 6. Defence examines witnesses • May choose to call witnesses to refute testimony provided by the Crown’s witnesses or to show reasonable doubt. • Procedure of direct examination, by the defence, and cross examination, by the Crown, is repeated. • The accused may choose to testify on his or her own behalf but cannot be compelled to do so. 7. Crown rebuts • After the defence has presented its evidence, the Crown has the opportunity to rebut, or contradict any new evidence the defence has introduced. 8. Defence presents surrebuttal - A reply to the opposing sides rebuttal

  13. 9. Closing Arguments • Crown closes first if the defence has not called witnesses. Defence closes first if it has called witnesses. • Crown shows why the defendant is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. • The defence tries to show that the Crown has not established the actusreus and mensrea, showing that a reasonable doubt exists. • Intended to help the jury better understand the issues of the case, not to present new evidence. 10. Charge to the jury • After closing arguments, the judge gives a charge to the jury, the judge’s explanation to the jurors of how the law applies to the case before them. • He/she advises the jurors on how to consider the evidence and how to return a verdict in accordance with the law. • Must be very careful as the charge is often the basis for an appeal. • The judge’s role is to decide on matters of law and the jury must decide on matters of fact. For example, the judge decides what evidence is admissible, the jury decides on what evidence is believable.

  14. 11. Jury deliberates • After the charge has been given, the sheriff escorts the jurors to the jury room to deliberate or reach a decision. • If they believe the accused or they don’t know who to believe, they must acquit. • If they are left with reasonable doubt regarding the defendant’s guilt they must also acquit. 12. Jury returns a verdict • The verdict has to be unanimous. • Once reached, the verdict is read in open court. • Both the Crown and the defence have the right to ask that the jury be polled or stand individually and confirm their agreement with the verdict. • A jury that can’t reach a verdict is called a hung jury. In this case the jury is discharged and a new jury is selected to try the case again.

  15. Figure 7.10 Trial by Jury, p. 183

  16. HOMEWORK • Read Section 8.4 and complete the following: • Review Your Understanding Questions 3, 5, 6, 9 on p. 235. • Summarize the following different kinds of evidence: • Self-incriminating; • Privileged communication; • Similar fact; • Hearsay; • Opinion; • Character; • Electronic surveillance; • Polygraph; • Photographs; • Confessions. • R. v. Oickle, page 234, questions 1 – 6.