|This page was last substantively updated or reviewed January 2016. (Rev. # 84009)|
The purpose of the arraignment is to make a public declaration of the charges against the accused and to inform the accused of the exact allegations before he decides on plea and election.
An arraignment has three components:
- calling the accused to the dock or bar;
- reading the charge to him; and
- asking for a plea.
On summary conviction offences, s. 801 directs the arraignment to occur at the appearance for trial:
Practice will vary on when the arraignment will happen. It can be at the first appearance, any subsequent appearance, or immediately before trial. In a jury trial, for example, the accused must be arraigned in front of the empanelled jury.
- Other Notices
Other formalities required before plea, include informing the accused of his choice of language for trial.
- Waiver of Reading
Even where the accused waives reading of the charges, a judge has discretion to read charges to the accused. A judge who insists on consistently reading all charges despite waiver by counsel is an abuse of discretion.
R v Carver, 2013 ABPC 51 (CanLII), per Rosborough J, at para 9
R v Mitchell, 1997 CanLII 6321 (ON CA), 121 CCC (3d) 139, per Doherty JA, at para 27
- Carver, supra, at para 8 citing Criminal Pleading and Practice in Canada, 2nd ed., Canada Law Book, at 14:0010
- s. 536(2)
- R v AA, 2000 CanLII 22813 (ON SC), 150 CCC (3d) 564, per Hill J aff'd 170 CCC (3d) 449
- AA, ibid.
Under s. 536(2), where "an accused is before a justice charged with an indictable offence, other than an offence listed in section 469, and the offence is not one over which a provincial court judge has absolute jurisdiction under section 553" the accused shall have the choice of mode of trial being:
- trial by provincial court judge,
- trial by Supreme court Judge Alone, with or without a preliminary inquiry; and,
- trial by Supreme court Judge and Jury, with or without a preliminary inquiry.
There are only three types of pleas permitted:
- plead guilty
- plead not guilty; or,
- special pleas authorized by Part XX
- See s. 606(1)
Plea of Guilty
Plea of Not Guilty and Other Pleas
Refusal to Enter a Plea
Where a defence election exists, and the accused refuses to enter an election, the judge may deem the election as electing to be tried by judge and jury with a preliminary inquiry. 
- See Defence Election