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The Criminal Legal Process

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Presentation on theme: "The Criminal Legal Process"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Criminal Legal Process

2 ÉDUCALOI: Bring the law into the classroom.
Let’s prepare the citizens of tomorrow! ÉDUCALOI: Bring the law into the classroom. IMPORTANT NOTICE This document has legal information up to date as of June 1, None of the information in this document should be taken to be legal advice. These materials are the exclusive property of Éducaloi. Teachers in Quebec schools can use them, but for non-commercial purposes only. The materials must be used in their original form, without modification. © 2013

3 Plain language for citizens
Éducaloi’s Mission Éducaloi is a non-profit organization that explains the law to Quebecers in language that is easy to understand. Plain language for citizens




7 Introduction to the Law

8 Once Upon a Time… In Canada
Canada was a colony of France from the time it was discovered until 1760, when it became a British colony. Thirty years later, the country was separated into Upper Canada and Lower Canada (now Ontario and Quebec). In 1867, a new country was created. It included Quebec, Ontario, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. However, the provinces that came together wanted to make sure they would still have their say. They wanted to control what happened in their territories. This is why they asked for the newly-created Canada to be a “federation”, also called a “federal”state.

9 The Canadian Federal System
The federal system allowed the different parts of Canada to combine their strengths, while maintaining some of their distinctiveness. How? Power is divided between the central federal government and the governments of each province. Each government is independent and has control over certain areas of responsibility. Today, Canada is made up of a central government in Ottawa (sometimes called the “federal” government), 10 provincial governments and three territorial governments.

10 Division of Responsibilities
For example, the federal government can make laws in these areas: Each provincial government can make laws in these areas: criminal law employment insurance copyright banking law education wills and inheritances health municipal law

11 Two Languages… Two Legal Traditions!
When the British wanted to apply English law throughout the colony of Canada, the French Canadians in what is now Quebec disagreed. They were attached to the French legal tradition. The British authorities made a compromise: for civil law, the rules of the French legal tradition would apply. For criminal law, English law would apply. This explains why our justice system is still based on two legal traditions.

12 What is criminal law? criminal law is...
… an area of law that deals with harmful conduct that needs to be punished, either because it is dangerous, or because it is judged to be unacceptable in our society. … the Criminal Code and certain other laws: the Firearms Act, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, etc. … a type of law that was inspired by the British system . … usually, a court case by the State against a person accused of a crime. … a set of rules to protect the public and preserve shared values.

13 … a type of law inspired by the law of France.
What is civil law? CIVIL LAW IS... … in Quebec, a large part of the civil law is in a law called the Civil Code of Québec. … a type of law inspired by the law of France. … a law specific to Quebec that is not used in the other Canadian provinces. … the law that applies to relations between people (family, property, inheritances, etc.)

14 The Actors in a Criminal Trial

15 The Prosecutor The prosecutor is the lawyer who presents the case on behalf of the State against the person accused of a crime. The prosecutor must prove that the accused is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. This lawyer’s exact title is “criminal and penal prosecuting attorney”.

16 Did you know that… The prosecutor’s priority is to discover the truth, not to win the case at all costs. There are roughly 450 prosecutors in Quebec.

17 Quiz Who do prosecutors work for? Answer: the ministry of justice

18 The Defence Lawyer This is the lawyer for the accused.
This lawyer defends the accused and tries to raise doubts in the minds of the judge or jury, so that the accused will be found not guilty.

19 Did you know that… Anyone arrested has the right to contact a lawyer.
Many defence lawyers make themselves available 24/7, seven days a week to answer questions from people who have been arrested and to advise them!

20 The Accused The accused is the person suspected of committing a crime.
The accused is presumed to be innocent until proved guilty. In other words, the accused is innocent until the prosecutor proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the accused committed the crime.

21 The Witness A witness knows certain facts regarding the crime. Lawyers for both sides of a case can ask a witness to come to court to explain what he or she knows, saw or heard.

22 Did you know that… A “subpoena” (an official document delivered by a bailiff) is used to ask witnesses to appear in court at a certain time. If the witness does not come to court, an arrest warrant can be issued to bring the witness before a judge. In most cases, married people cannot be forced to tell a court about something person in the couple told the other during the marriage.

23 Quiz If a witness is called away from home to come to court, how much compensation does the witness get? Answer: (January 2013) $90 a day if the time away from home is more than five hours $45 a day if the time away from home is shorter

24 The Judge The judge is the person in charge in court. She is the chief organizer of the trial. She must make sure the rules of evidence are followed and explain legal concepts to the jury, if there is a jury.

25 Did you know that… Quebec has over 460 judges who sit on the Court of Appeal, the Superior Court and the Court of Quebec. This does not include judges in municipal courts. To become a judge, you must first be a lawyer for at least 10 years.

26 The Jury The jury members are citizens given the serious responsibility of deciding whether the accused is guilty or not at the end of the trial. The jury’s decision must address each crime the accused in charged with and be unanimous (everyone must agree).

27 Did you know that… Jurors are chosen from the list of people with the right to vote in elections. If members of the jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict, there must be a new trial. Not all crimes go before a jury. Automatically before a jury = murder, high treason, piracy (unless the prosecutor and the accused agree not to have a jury) Never before a jury = theft or fraud under $5,000 For other crimes, the accused can choose whether to have a jury.

28 Quiz How many people sit on a jury? Answer: Usually 12

29 The Court Clerk The clerk writes down important things that happen at the trial. The clerk also asks witnesses to promise to tell the truth.

30 The Court Usher The court usher prepares the courtroom and maintains order and proper behaviour during the trial. When the judge arrives, the usher asks people to be quiet and says the famous line: “The court is now in session.”

31 The Special Constable The special constable is a full-fledged police officer. She even carries a gun on her belt. The constable’s role is mainly to watch over what happens and maintain order. She makes sure that rules are respected in the courtroom.

32 Steps in a Criminal Trial

33 Steps in a Criminal Trial
Step #1: Overview of the Case Before presenting evidence or calling witnesses, the prosecutor presents a summary of the prosecution point of view. In legal language, this is called presenting the “theory of the case”. Like the introductory part of an essay, the theory of the case lets the prosecutor provide an overview of the arguments and conclusions he or she would like the court to draw.

34 Steps in a Criminal Trial
Step #2: The Prosecutor’s Evidence Since the prosecutor has the burden of proving that the accused is guilty, the prosecutor is the first to call witnesses and ask them questions.

35 Steps in a Criminal Trial
Step #3: Cross-Examination by the Defence Each witness is then cross-examined (questioned) by the defence lawyer. The defence lawyer tries to highlight statements of the witnesses that are favourable to the accused, and to bring out contradictions, lies, etc.

36 Steps in a Criminal Trial
Step #4: Evidence of the Defence (if there is any) Once the prosecutor has presented witnesses, the accused decides (with his or her lawyer) whether to present witnesses. The accused does not have to do this, since it is the prosecutor who must prove the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. If the accused does present witnesses, the accused is also allowed to present a theory of the case. Then the accused can call witnesses, and even be a witness him or herself.

37 Steps in a Criminal Trial
Step #5: Cross-Examination by the Prosecutor Each witness is then cross-examined by the prosecutor, who tries to highlight statements that go against the accused, contradictions, lies, etc.

38 Steps in a Criminal Trial
Step #6: Closing Arguments At the end of the trial, both sides make closing arguments. They try to draw the attention of the judge or jury to the important facts of the case. The arguments are a little bit like a conclusion: the lawyers must summarize everything that went on during the trial and highlight what was favourable to their sides.

39 Steps in a Criminal Trial
Step #7: Deliberation and Verdict If there is a jury, the jury meets, discusses, and decides whether the accused is guilty. This period of discussion is called deliberation. The head juror then announces the decision to the judge. The jury’s decision must be unanimous. The decision is called a verdict. If there is no jury, the judge decides whether the accused is guilty or not.


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