Juristat Bulletin — Quick Fact
Overview of the Adult Criminal Justice System

Release date: June 27, 2018

Overview of the Adult Criminal Justice System

Description for figure 1

Overview of the Adult Criminal Justice System

Produced in collaboration by the Department of Justice Canada and Statistics Canada

  1. Police
    1. Alleged offence
    2. Police response
    3. Detained by police (choose one of the following):
      1. NO (see Courts)
      2. YES (see Courts)
  2. Court
    • Not detained by police:
      1. First appearance: Crown election (for hybrid offences) and disclosure
      2. Plea (inform victim of plea agreement for more serious offences)
        • Accused chooses to plead not guilty or refuses to plead to an indictable or summary offence:
          • Indictable offence:
            1. Preliminary inquiry (if requested)
            2. Judge selection (judge alone or judge and jury) AND jury selection (if applicable)
            3. Trial (Provincial or Superior Court)
            4. Verdict (choose one of the following):
              1. Not guilty (end of case)
              2. Guilty (see Sentencing)
              3. Not criminally responsible (not criminally responsible review board process):
                1. Review Board disposition hearing (alternatively, court hearing and Review Board review) (victim may present victim impact statement AND notice of review hearing to victim)
                2. Review Board decision (choose one of the following):
                  1. Detention in hospital:
                    1. Dispositions reviewed
                    2. Review Board disposition hearing (alternatively, court hearing and Review Board review) (victim may present victim impact statement AND notice of review hearing to victim)
                    3. Review Board decision (e.g., detention in hospital, conditional discharge or absolute discharge)
                  2. Conditional discharge:
                    1. Dispositions reviewed
                    2. Review Board disposition hearing (alternatively, court hearing and Review Board review) (victim may present victim impact statement AND notice of review hearing to victim)
                    3. Review Board decision (e.g., detention in hospital, conditional discharge or absolute discharge)
                  3. Absolute discharge (end of case)
          • Summary offence:
            1. Trial (Provincial or Superior Court)
            2. Verdict (choose one of the following):
              1. Not guilty (end of case)
              2. Guilty (see Sentencing)
              3. Not criminally responsible (not criminally responsible review board process):
                1. Review Board disposition hearing (alternatively, court hearing and Review Board review) (victim may present victim impact statement AND notice of review hearing to victim)
                2. Review Board decision (choose one of the following):
                  1. Detention in hospital:
                    1. Dispositions reviewed
                    2. Review Board disposition hearing (alternatively, court hearing and Review Board review) (victim may present victim impact statement AND notice of review hearing to victim)
                    3. Review Board decision (e.g., detention in hospital, conditional discharge or absolute discharge)
                  2. Conditional discharge:
                    1. Dispositions reviewed
                    2. Review Board disposition hearing (alternatively, court hearing and Review Board review) (victim may present victim impact statement AND notice of review hearing to victim)
                    3. Review Board decision (e.g., detention in hospital, conditional discharge or absolute discharge)
                  3. Absolute discharge (end of case)
        • OR accused chooses to plead guilty, and there is a declaration of guilt by the court (see Sentencing)
    • Detained by police:
      1. First appearance/Bail hearing (consideration of victim safety)
      2. Detained in a remand facility OR released by justice/judge (copy of bail order to victim upon request)
      3. Plea (inform victim of plea agreement for more serious offences)
        • Accused chooses to plead not guilty or refuses to plead to an indictable or summary offence:
          • Indictable offence:
            1. Preliminary inquiry (if requested)
            2. Judge selection (judge alone or judge and jury) AND jury selection
            3. Trial (Provincial or Superior Court)
            4. Verdict (choose one of the following):
              1. Not guilty (end of case)
              2. Guilty (see Sentencing)
              3. Not criminally responsible (not criminally responsible review board process):
                1. Review Board disposition hearing (alternatively, court hearing and Review Board review) (victim may present victim impact statement AND notice of review hearing to victim)
                2. Review Board decision (choose one of the following):
                  1. Detention in hospital:
                    1. Dispositions reviewed
                    2. Review Board disposition hearing (alternatively, court hearing and Review Board review) (victim may present victim impact statement AND notice of review hearing to victim)
                    3. Review Board decision (e.g., detention in hospital, conditional discharge or absolute discharge)
                  2. Conditional discharge:
                    1. Dispositions reviewed
                    2. Review Board disposition hearing (alternatively, court hearing and Review Board review) (victim may present victim impact statement AND notice of review hearing to victim)
                    3. Review Board decision (e.g., detention in hospital, conditional discharge or absolute discharge)
                  3. Absolute discharge (end of case)
          • Summary offence:
            1. Trial (Provincial or Superior Court)
            2. Verdict (choose one of the following):
              1. Not guilty (end of case)
              2. Guilty (see Sentencing)
              3. Not criminally responsible (not criminally responsible review board process):
                1. Review Board disposition hearing (alternatively, court hearing and Review Board review) (victim may present victim impact statement AND notice of review hearing to victim)
                2. Review Board decision (choose one of the following):
                  1. Detention in hospital:
                    1. Dispositions reviewed
                    2. Review Board disposition hearing (alternatively, court hearing and Review Board review) (victim may present victim impact statement AND notice of review hearing to victim)
                    3. Review Board decision (e.g., detention in hospital, conditional discharge or absolute discharge)
                  2. Conditional discharge:
                    1. Dispositions reviewed
                    2. Review Board disposition hearing (alternatively, court hearing and Review Board review) (victim may present victim impact statement AND notice of review hearing to victim)
                    3. Review Board decision (e.g., detention in hospital, conditional discharge or absolute discharge)
                  3. Absolute discharge (end of case)
        • OR accused chooses to plead guilty, and there is a declaration of guilt by the court (see Sentencing)
  3. Sentencing
    1. Sentencing (victim impact statement/community impact statement may be presented)
    2. Decision (choose one or a combination of the following):
      • Discharge (choose one of the following):
        1. Conditional
        2. Absolute
      • Probation order (copy of probation order to victim upon request)
      • Fine
      • Restitution (considered for all victims)
      • Prohibition order
      • Victim surcharge
      • Imprisonment (see Corrections)
  4. Corrections
    1. Accused is sentenced to either a Provincial or Federal facility:
      • Provincial facility (imprisonment for under 2 years):
        1. Prisoner may serve time in community under a conditional sentence order (copy of order to victim upon request) OR may possibly serve an intermittent sentence if less than 90 days
        2. Prisoner is granted parole with conditions OR is released (earned or at expiry of sentence)
      • Federal facility (imprisonment for 2 years or more):
        1. Prisoner may serve a determinate or indeterminate sentence:
          • Determinate sentence:
            1. Statutory release with conditions OR if deemed high risk, case is reviewed by Parole Board of Canada (at next eligible date) (choose one of the following outcomes):
              1. Parole approved (statutory release with conditions)
              2. Parole denied (released at expiry of sentence)
          • Indeterminate sentence (Dangerous Offenders):
            1. Parole Board of Canada reviews case at 7 years (choose one of the following outcomes):
              1. Parole approved and prisoner is granted conditional release (parole is revokable)
              2. Parole denied and prisoner is detained(case is reviewed by Parole Board of Canada every 2 years)
          • A Long-term Supervision Order may be imposed on the prisoner at the time of their release (served in the community at expiry of sentence, maximum 10 years)

Additional information

Court

  • Alternative measures:
    1. Compliance: Crown may withdraw charges or enter a stay of proceedings. A court may also dismiss the charges
    2. Non-compliance: continuation of proceedings
  • Charges are usually laid by police (except in BC/NB/QC where the Crown needs to approve them), before the first appearance/bail hearing.
  • Crown may stay or withdraw charges for: insufficient evidence; where it is not in the public’s interest to proceed; or where alternative measures are recommended.
    *If Crown stays, possible recommencement of proceedings.
  • Applications and Motions (e.g. Third party records, Charter applications):
    • Non-communication or no-contact order: applications can be made anytime between bail and sentencing.
    • Publication ban, testimonial aids and exclusion orders: applications can be made anytime between bail and trial.
    • Conditions to protect victim: applications can be made anytime between police release and sentencing.
    *Application may happen at any time between bail and the verdict.
  • Process if an accused is unfit to stand trial:
    1. Accused is considered unfit to stand trial
    2. They are detained in a hospital OR are granted a conditional discharge
    3. Accused becomes fit
    4. Trial (Provincial/Superior Court) commences
    *In cases where the accused does not become fit, the court may order a stay of proceedings.
  • Pre-sentence reports containing information on the offender (i.e., describing among other things the offender’s background, family, education, employment record, physical and mental health, social activities, potential and motivation) may be used by the sentencing judge to assess the offender’s character and relate the sentencing to the individual).
  • Appeal process: An offender may file an appeal against the conviction and/or the sentence. The Crown may also appeal against an acquittal or a sentence but, generally speaking, the Crown’s right to appeal is much more restricted than the offender’s.

Corrections

  • Provincially sentenced offenders can earn remission resulting in serving approximately 2/3 of their sentence in custody. Release from provincial custody can also take place with parole or at the end of the sentence/warrant expiry date.
  • Statutory Release requires federally sentenced offenders to serve the final third of their sentence in the community, under supervision and under conditions of release similar to those imposed on offenders released on full parole. Offenders serving life or indeterminate sentences are not eligible for statutory release.

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