You are on page 1of 36

Unit 3: Canadas

Criminal Justice System

Legal Fundamentals
Lady Justice
Symbols and imagery:
What do they mean?

Legal Fundamentals

The Presumption of Innocence:
Anybody charged to a crime is presumed to be innocent.
The crown (state) is responsible to prove the defendant

The Burden of Proof:
the defendant must be released unless the crown proves
guilt beyond a reasonable doubt

Habeas Corpus:
the right not to be detained or imprisoned unlawfully.
If the crown can't show cause, the person must be
Legal Fundamentals continued
The Right to a Fair and Speedy Trial:
Fairness - assured by jury, unbiased judge, rules, etc.
Speed 100 000 drunk driving cases were thrown out of court in
Ontario because they had taken too long

Equality Before the Law:
Justice is Blind
not young/old, rich/poor, male/female, culture, religion, etc.
a.k.a. rule of law no one is above the law

British common law:
Based on British law
Includes: protection against self-incrimination, protection of being
tried for same offence twice (double-jeopardy), use of precedent

Divisions of Law
Criminal law deals
with crimes
considered against
the community as a
whole, while civil law
deals with complaints
between individuals.

Criminal Law
Three elements that must be present for an act to be
considered a criminal act

1. The acts must be prohibited by the criminal code
of Canada

2. There must have been intent

3. The accused must have been able to understand
and appreciate the nature of the act and it's
The purpose of the Criminal
Justice System Part One
To protect people
To protect property
Enforce moral standards
Maintain order
The purpose of the Criminal
Justice System Part Two
To provide retribution punishment: paying
back society
To provide rehabilitation help the individual
who has committed the crime. A way to
reintegrate him/her back into society when
To deter people from committing crimes
Procedural Justice
The Law Reform Commission has also defined seven
principles of procedural justice, or fairness in the
justice system:

1. Fairness (no bias toward accused)
2. Efficiency (process is timely; no lengthy delays)
3. Clarity (accused understands the process)
4. Restraint (officials are disciplined and professional)
5. Accountability (officials are responsible for actions)
6. Participation (process must be open for scrutiny)
7. Protection (accused is not abused by officials)

The Elements of a
Criminal Offences

For all criminal offences, it is necessary to
prove two elements:
Actus Reus
From Latin, referring to action involving

It must be shown that the person committed
an act prohibited by the law.
Mens Rea
Latin for Guilty Mind

It refers to the mental state of the person
committing the crime.

Mens rea exists if the offence is committed
with (1) intent or knowledge, or (2)
Mens Rea
The law considers some people incapable of
forming the intent to commit wrongful actions.

Examples include:
Severe mental illness
And those under the influence of alcohol or drugs
to such an extent that they do not know the nature
of their actions.
Both Actus Reus and Mens Rea must exist
at the same time in order for someone to be
found guilty of a criminal act.

These conditions have to be proven to exist
at the time the crime was committed and be
proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
Recklessness and Willful
Recklessness is the careless disregard for the possible
results of an action.
Example: A person who knows they have a sexually
transmitted disease has unprotected sex with someone;
they may not intend to hurt that person, but their actions
are reckless.

Willful Blindness occurs when someone purposely
ignores certain facts or information; "turning a blind eye"
to something.
Example: Delivering an unknown package for a known
drug dealer without asking what is in it.


Criminal Negligence
- careless conduct that causes foreseeable
harm to another person

Careless disregard for others,
no intent or motive is present,
but actions has caused
damage. Example- speeding,
drinking and driving
General Intent
The intent is limited to the act itself and the
person has no other criminal purpose in

In an Assault case, the Crown only has to
prove that the accused did apply force.

Trespassing accused was on someone
elses property at night. The intent to be
there is inferred.

Specific Intent
The person committing the offence has a
further criminal purpose in mind.

In a Break and Enter, specific intent exists
because it involves the following:
[1] An intentional illegal action (breaking and
entering) that is committed with the intent to
commit [2] a further illegal action (robbery, an
indictable offence)
The knowledge of certain facts can provide
the necessary mens rea.
For example: if you knowingly use a credit
card that has been cancelled.
It is only necessary to prove that the person used
the card knowing that it was cancelled;
prosecution does not have to prove intent to
Criminal Act and Omissions
Failure for a person to do something (omission) can
be deemed a wrongful act.

I.E. Failure to provide the necessities for someone
you are legally obligated to provide for.
Not obtaining assistance for someone in childbirth
Not taking an elderly parent to the hospital
Not providing food for your children.

A persons failure to do something can be interpreted
as a criminal act.

A person who intends to commit a criminal
offence but fails to complete the act may still
be guilty.

It is illegal to attempt to break the law.

How would you prove Actus Reus and
Mens Rea?
A conspiracy is an agreement between two or
more people to commit a crime or to achieve
something by an illegal act.

The planning of the act itself is a crime.

The people involved must be serious in their
intention to commit the crime.
Jokes or threats are not considered conspiracy.
Aiding and Abetting
Aiding means to help someone commit a

Abetting means to encourage someone to
commit a crime.

Both acts are considered to be a crime.
Accessory After The Fact
Accessory after the fact is when someone
helps a criminal avoid detention or capture.

This is a criminal act.

Can you give examples of Accessory after
the fact?
Types of Offences
The nature of the offence determines which
court has jurisdiction to hear the case,
the powers of police to arrest,
the accuseds right to be released before trial,
the kind of trial the accused receives.
Three Types of Offences
Summary Conviction Offences
Indictable Offences
Hybrid Offences

Summary Conviction
These offences are the least serious and trials for
these convictions are held at the lower courts of
the Ontario Court of Justice.
The accused does not have a right to a jury trial.
Trials in these cases are held in front of a judge
alone, and sentencing for this type of offence
ranges, with the maximum penalty being a fine of
up to $2000 and/or six months in jail, unless
otherwise specified by law.

Summary Conviction Cont
Usually a person is not arrested for a summary offence,
but will receive a notice to appear in court.
The accused does not have to appear in court personally.
A lawyer may represent the person in the court
A person cannot be fingerprinted for a summary
conviction offence and is eligible for a pardon three years
after the sentence is completed.
Examples of summary offences include: causing a
public disturbance, loitering, and having open alcohol in

Indictable Offences
Indictable offences are more serious than summary
The procedure followed depends on the seriousness of
the offence.
For less serious indictable offences, trials are done before
a provincial court judge, while the most serious indictable
offences, such as murder, must be tried by a judge and
For some indictable offences, the accused is put to an
election between being tried by a provincial court judge, a
superior court judge alone, or a superior court judge with
a jury.
Indictable Offence Cont
A person charged with an indictable offence must show
up personally in court.
There is no limit on how much time can elapse between
the alleged act and the arrest, which means that police
can charge the person years after the offence occurred.
The maximum penalty for indictable offences is life
Examples of indictable offences include: murder,
robbery, and kidnapping.
Hybrid Offence
Hybrid offences are also known as dual
procedure offences and can be tried as either
summary conviction or indictable offences.
The Crown chooses whether it wants to
prosecute as a summary or an indictable
offence, usually depending upon the
circumstances of the incident, and factors about
the offender.
Examples of hybrid offences include:
impaired driving, assault, theft under $5000, and
failing to provide the necessaries of life.
Most offences in the Criminal Code are hybrid
offences. Hybrid offences are treated as
indictable offences until the Crown chooses
which way it wants to proceed. This means that
an accused will be fingerprinted on arrest, even
though it is possible that he will be tried for a
summary conviction offence.
Criminal Offence Penalty Charts
Discussion Question
Fingerprinting for Hybrid Offense
Police are able to fingerprint those who are charged
with indictable offences. Police often fingerprint those
charged with petty hybrid offences in order to obtain as
many fingerprints for police databanks as possible.
These fingerprints can be used to identify persons in
future crimes.
Should police be able to fingerprint those who are
charged with hybrid offences?
Is this a violation of the accuseds rights? Justify your
Word Wall:
Mens Reus
Actus Rea
Specific intent
General intent
Colour of right
Strict Liability
Due diligence
Reasonable person
Absolute liability
Summary conviction
Hybrid Offences