Criminal Code of Canada

Criminal Code of Canada

Canadian criminal codeNothing is a crime in Canada unless a statute (or law) makes it illegal.  The primary statute to reference for the vast majority of criminal charges is the Criminal Code of Canada. The Criminal Code is a federal statute which means that crimes are defined the same way and carry the same sentencing range in every Province and Territory across Canada.  Although local procedures and practices may differ, the fundamental nature of criminal law is the same across the nation.

While many crimes in Canada are obvious (murder, theft) others are far less so (prowling at night, practicing witchcraft.  Every offence consists of both a physical act or omission (the actus reus) and the mental element (mens rea). In order to be found guilty of a crime, the burden is on the Crown Attorney to prove both these elements beyond a reasonable doubt.  Every criminal defendant begins their trial cloaked in the presumption of innocence.  If the crown cannot satisfy its burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt on every element of the charge, the defendant must be found not guilty.

In addition to the Criminal Code, various other statutes, both Provincial and Federal, can create offences that carry serious fines or even jail time. These include the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Provincial Offences Act, and the Highway Traffic Act.  All of these various statutes are governed by the over-arching fundamental rights and freedoms set out in the Canadian Charter of Rights of Freedoms (most commonly referred to simply as “The Charter”).

For your lawyer to be an effective advocate, it is essential that he or she have a deep understanding not only of the Criminal Code but of the dozens of other statutes that interact with criminal law in Canada.  Frequently, the lawyers at Adler Bytensky Prutschi Shikhman are able to win trials or negotiate plea bargains by using their deep knowledge of ancillary laws and applying them to your criminal case.