Pursuant to s. 91 of the Constitution Act, 1867, criminal law falls under federal jurisdiction, granting parliament exclusive power to make laws in relation to criminal law except for the constitution of courts of criminal jurisdiction, but including the procedure in criminal matters.


 Accordingly, federal legislation, such as the Criminal Code (Code) and the Controlled Drugs and substances act, governs criminal law and procedure across Canada. In Ontario, criminal trials for adults (ages 18 and over) are conducted in two trial courts, the Ontario Court of Justice and the Superior Court of Justice. Trials that take place in the Ontario court of justice are presided over by a judge sitting alone.


Trials that take place in the Superior Court of justice are heard by a judge sitting alone or by a judge sitting with a jury. After an accused person is charged with a criminal offense, the Crown will review the Crown brief to determine whether the appropriate charge has been laid. The Crown brief is prepared by the police and typically includes a synopsis of the offense, background information about the accused, witness statements and police officers notes. 


If the Crown determines that there is a reasonable prospect of conviction on the charge(s) laid and that it is in the public interest to proceed with the prosecution, the Crown will complete a charge screening form and prepare disclosures for the defense. The screening form will usually list the charges on which the Crown intends to proceed, either summarily or by indictment; and whether the case is appropriate for direct accountability or a peace bond.


D.A. Commissioning & Legal Services also provide services to lawyers, paralegals and other legal professionals in the criminal courts.


If you have been charged with a criminal offense, contact D.A. Commissioning & Legal Services to discuss the best resolution to your case.

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