Adult Criminal Judicial Process
When an offence is reported, the police service conducts or not on investigation. Following the conclusions of the investigation, the police service submits a report to the Attorney General’s prosecutor who determines whether there is sufficient evidence. The prosecutor decides the charge and submits it to the Court.
Where there is a promise to appear, a recognizance or an appearance notice, the prosecutor requests a confirmation. If the suspect has been released without formality, or was not arrested, the prosecutor may request that an arrest warrant or a summons be issued.
Where it is determined that the evidence is not sufficient, the prosecutor may close the case.
The Criminal Code provides for the implementation of an alternative measures program. It allows for recourse to alternative measures for the suspect rather than legal proceedings. Certain criteria must be considered, such as the interests of society and of the victim, acknowledgement by the suspect of his responsibility with regard to the office and the suspect’s consent to comply with the measures.
Where the accused is detained in custody of the time of the Court appearance, the judge holds, immediately or in the following days, a hearing on the accused’s release. The accused must be released, unless the Attorney General’s prosecutor proves that custody is necessary for the protection and safety of the public or that releasing the accused would jeopardize the public’s confidence in the administration of justice.
Release may be conditional (example communicating with the victim is prohibited). Il the accused does not comply with the conditions, the Court may bring a new charge against the accused or review his release.
Upon appearance before the judge, the accused is advised of the charge brought against him. Where the accused is charged with an offence punishable on summary conviction or with a minor criminal offence, he must enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If the accused pleads guilty, the judge hands down the sentence. If the accused pleads not guilty, the judge sets the trial date.
Where the accused is charged with indictable offence, the accused must choose how he will be tried. The judge then sets the date for the preliminary inquiry or the trial. Where the accused is charged with murder, the judge sets the date of the preliminary inquiry.
With the consent of the Attorney General’s prosecutor, the accused may choose not to have a preliminary inquiry.
Where a preliminary inquiry is held, the prosecutor submits to the Court the main facts that constitute the proof. Where the evidence is not sufficient, the judge may discharge the accused. If there is proof of the contrary, the accused is committed for trial.
After the complaint is read to the accused, the Attorney General’s prosecutor and the defence attorney call their witnesses to testify and present their proof and exhibits. Each party may cross-examine the other party’s witnesses.
The accused does not have to testify in his defence or call any witnesses to testify.
Next, the defence attorney and the prosecutor present their arguments. Where the accused is tried by a judge and jury, the judge gives instructions to the jury. The jury must gives instruction to the jury. The jury must render a unanimous verdict. Where the accused is tried by a judge without a jury, the judge renders his verdict after examining the evidence.
Before making a decision, the judge may request that a probation officer prepare a pre-sentence report. The probation officer the collects information on the accused: his past, his family history and previous convictions. The probation officer may also contact the victim to inquire about the nature and seriousness of the damage incurred.
The sentence is rendered as soon as the accused pleads guilty or has been convicted. It may also be rendered at a subsequent sitting.
Native Para-judicial Services of Quebec www.spaq.qc.ca