CRIMINAL LAW. What is Criminal Law?. Public law that declares acts to be crimes and prescribes punishments for those crimes. What is a Crime?. Anything that is defined as criminal in the Criminal Code or related federal statutes (i.e. Youth Criminal Justice Act, Food and Drugs Act, etc.)
Public law that declares acts to be crimes and prescribes punishments for those crimes
Offences that fall under provincial jurisdiction, such as failing to wear a seatbelt, speeding, or drinking under age.
Enforced by the courts, and may involve a substantial penalty, but are not “crimes” – you will not get a criminal record if you are found guilty of committing one of these acts (hmmm….following too close????).
The action harms other people;
The action violates the basic values of society;
Using the law to deal with the action does not violate the basic values of society;
Criminal law can make a significant contribution to resolving the problem.
For an offence to be considered a crime, two elements must exist: ACTUS REUS (the physical element, or guilty action) and MENS REA (the mental element, or guilty mind).
ACTUS REUS + MENS REA = A CRIME
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For example, if you use a stolen credit card, the Crown only has to prove that you used the credit card.
when an illegal, unintended act results from an intent to commit a crime is also an offence.
There is a lot of ambiguity and confusion about mensrea, a central issue being whether the intent meets the SUBJECTIVE or OBJECTIVE standard. This is important to determine whether the conduct was deliberate.
It is more difficult to prove the subjective standard because it is difficult to know what someone is thinking at any given time.
For the most part, crimes must have both elements (actusreusand mensrea) present to secure a conviction. There are some crimes, however, that do not. For these crimes, the Crown only needs to prove the actusreus.
These offences are called REGULATORY OFFENCES
They are classified as either a) ABSOLUTE LIABILITY or b) STRICT LIABILITY offences
The power of arrest for a citizen or police;
The rights of the accused;
How the trial will proceed (in which court); and,
What penalty will be imposed.
SUMMARY CONVICTION OFFENCES
HYBRID/DUAL PROCEDURE OFFENCES
Minor offences for which an accused can be arrested or summoned to court without delay (tried without a preliminary hearing or jury);
Includes all provincial offences i.e. Traffic violations;
Penalties range from small fines to imprisonment;
Maximum penalty is $2000 fine and/or 6 months in prison
Severe criminal offences, such as murder;
The Crown proceeds by indictment (press charges);
Trial by judge alone, or judge and jury (with the approval of the Attorney General)
Severe penalties are imposed at the discretion of the trial judge;
Some crimes have a minimum penalty that must be adhered to.
Offences that are punishable as both an indictable offence and summary conviction offence;
The Crown decides how to proceed – either by indictment or summarily;
First time offences are usually treated as summary conviction offences, depending on the nature of the crime
If the value of the stolen goods is over $5000, the offence would be an INDICTABLE offence;
If the value of the stolen goods is under $5000, the offence would be a SUMMARY CONVICTION OFFENCE.