Criminal Courts

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Introduction

See also: Definition of Judicial Officers and Offices and Jurisdiction of the Courts

All provinces and territories have three levels of court with the exception of Nunavut.

Trial Court Provincial / Territorial Court

Superior Court

Appellate Court Summary Conviction Appeals Court (Superior Court)

Court of Appeal


Courts by Province

Prov / Terr. Inferior-level Court Superior-level Court / Summary Appeal-level Court Appellate Court
Federal N / A N / A Supreme Court of Canada
Newfoundland and
Labrador
Provincial Court of Newfoundland and Labrador Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Trial Division Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador, Court of Appeal
Prince Edward Island Provincial Court of Prince Edward Island Supreme Court of Prince Edward Island Prince Edward Island Court of Appeal
Nova Scotia Provincial Court of Nova Scotia Supreme Court of Nova Scotia Nova Scotia Court of Appeal
New Brunwick Provincial Court Court of Queen's Bench of New Brunswick Court of Appeal of New Brunswick
Quebec Court of Quebec Superior Court Court of Appeal
Ontario Ontario Court of Justice Superior Court of Justice
(previously divided into Ontario Court of Justice (General Division) and High Court of Justice)
Court of Appeal for Ontario
Manitoba Provincial Court of Manitoba Court of Queen's Bench of Manitoba Court of Appeal
Saskatchewan Provincial Court of Saskatchewan Court of Queen's Bench for Saskatchewan Court of Appeal for Saskatchewan
Alberta Provincial Court Alberta Court of Queen's Bench Court of Appeal
British Columbia Provincial Court of British Columbia Supreme Court of British Columbia Court of Appeal
Nunvut N / A Nunavut Court of Justice Court of Appeal of Nunavut
Northwest Territories Territorial Court of the Northwest Territories Supreme Court of the Northwest Territories Court of Appeal for the Northwest Territories
Yukon Territorial Court of Yukon Supreme Court of Yukon Court of Appeal

Court of Criminal Jurisdiction

See also: Jurisdiction of the Courts

A court of criminal Jurisdiction refers to those courts which are able to hold trial regarding criminal matters. This consists of both provincial courts and superior courts. Section 2 of the Code specifically defines them as:

2
...
“court of criminal jurisdiction” means

(a) a court of general or quarter sessions of the peace, when presided over by a superior court judge,
(a.1) in the Province of Quebec, the Court of Quebec, the municipal court of Montreal and the municipal court of Quebec,
(b) a provincial court judge or judge acting under Part XIX, and
(c) in the Province of Ontario, the Ontario Court of Justice;

...
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 2; ... 2013, c. 13, s. 2; 2014, c. 17, s. 1, c. 25, s. 2; 2015, c. 3, s. 44.


CCC

What specific types of criminal matters courts of criminal jurisdiction can hear will be dictated by the Code. Certain types of offences will be designated as within the sole jurisdiction of a select type of court of criminal jurisdiction. This is what is referred to as absolute or exclusive jurisdiction offences.[1]

  1. see Defence Election for details

Summary Conviction Court

See also: Definition of Judicial Officers and Offices

Part XXVII (s. 785 to 840) defines "summary conviction court" as:

Definitions
785 In this Part [Part XXVII - Summary Convictions],
...
“summary conviction court” means a person who has jurisdiction in the territorial division where the subject-matter of the proceedings is alleged to have arisen and who

(a) is given jurisdiction over the proceedings by the enactment under which the proceedings are taken,
(b) is a justice or provincial court judge, where the enactment under which the proceedings are taken does not expressly give jurisdiction to any person or class of persons, or
(c) is a provincial court judge, where the enactment under which the proceedings are taken gives jurisdiction in respect thereof to two or more justices;

...
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 785; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), ss. 170, 203; 1992, c. 1, s. 58; 1995, c. 22, s. 7, c. 39, s. 156; 1996, c. 19, s. 76; 1999, c. 25, s. 23(Preamble); 2002, c. 13, s. 78; 2006, c. 14, s. 7; 2013, c. 11, s. 4.
[Annotations Added]


CCC

This definition also applies to Part XXIII (s. 716 to 751.1) and XX.1 (s. 672.1 to 672.95). Further, references under s. 111, 117.011, 117.05, 175, 573, 669.2, and 699.

Superior Courts

2
...
"superior court of criminal jurisdiction" means

(a) in the Province of Ontario, the Court of Appeal or the Superior Court of Justice,
(b) in the Province of Quebec, the Superior Court,
(c) in the Provinces of Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island, the Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court,
(d) in the Provinces of New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, the Court of Appeal or the Court of Queen’s Bench,
(e) in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon and the Northwest Territories, the Supreme Court, and
(f) in Nunavut, the Nunavut Court of Justice;
(g) and (h) [Repealed, 2015, c. 3, s. 44]

...
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 2; ... 2013, c. 13, s. 2; 2014, c. 17, s. 1, c. 25, s. 2; 2015, c. 3, s. 44.


CCC

Under Part III:

84. (1) In this Part,
...
“superior court” means

(a) in Ontario, the Superior Court of Justice, sitting in the region, district or county or group of counties where the relevant adjudication was made,
(b) in Quebec, the Superior Court,
(c) in New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, the Court of Queen’s Bench,
(d) in Nova Scotia, British Columbia, Prince Edward Island and a territory, the Supreme Court, and
(e) in Newfoundland and Labrador, the Trial Division of the Supreme Court;

...
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 84; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), ss. 185(F), 186; 1991, c. 40, s. 2; 1995, c. 39, s. 139; 1998, c. 30, s. 16; 2003, c. 8, s. 2; 2008, c. 6, s. 2; 2009, c. 22, s. 2; 2015, c. 3, s. 45.


Court of Appeal

2
...
“court of appeal” means, in all provinces, the Court of Appeal. ...
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 2; ... 2013, c. 13, s. 2; 2014, c. 17, s. 1, c. 25, s. 2; 2015, c. 3, s. 44.


CCC

Summary Conviction Appeal Court

Definition of appeal court
812 (1) For the purposes of sections 813 to 828, appeal court means

(a) in the Province of Ontario, the Superior Court of Justice sitting in the region, district or county or group of counties where the adjudication was made;
(b) in the Province of Quebec, the Superior Court;
(c) in the Provinces of Nova Scotia, British Columbia and Prince Edward Island, the Supreme Court;
(d) in the Provinces of New Brunswick, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta, the Court of Queen’s Bench;
(e) [Repealed, 1992, c. 51, s. 43]
(f) [Repealed, 2015, c. 3, s. 56]
(g) in the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Trial Division of the Supreme Court;
(h) in Yukon and the Northwest Territories, a judge of the Supreme Court; and
(i) in Nunavut, a judge of the Nunavut Court of Justice.

When appeal court is Court of Appeal of Nunavut
(2) A judge of the Court of Appeal of Nunavut is the appeal court for the purposes of sections 813 to 828 if the appeal is from a conviction, order, sentence or verdict of a summary conviction court consisting of a judge of the Nunavut Court of Justice.
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 812; R.S., 1985, c. 11 (1st Supp.), s. 2, c. 27 (2nd Supp.), s. 10; 1990, c. 16, s. 7, c. 17, s. 15; 1992, c. 51, s. 43; 1998, c. 30, s. 14; 1999, c. 3, s. 55; 2002, c. 7, s. 149; 2015, c. 3, s. 56.



Definition of appeal court
829 (1) Subject to subsection (2), for the purposes of sections 830 to 838, appeal court means, in any province, the superior court of criminal jurisdiction for the province.
Nunavut
(2) If the appeal is from a conviction, judgment, verdict or other final order or determination of a summary conviction court consisting of a judge of the Nunavut Court of Justice, “appeal court” means a judge of the Court of Appeal of Nunavut.
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 829; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 182; 1999, c. 3, s. 56.


Court of Competent Jurisdiction

Generally, a court of competent jurisdiction is one which has jurisdiction over the subject matter, the parties and power to order a remedy.[1]

However, competent jurisdiction is not conveyed by the Charter, but rather exists independently of it.[2]

A "court of competent jurisdiction" is not defined in the Criminal Code.[3] It refers to a court "that possesses jurisdiction over the subject matter, jurisdiction over the person, and jurisdiction to grant the remedy".[4] To have jurisdiction over remedy depends on whether "the court or tribunal suited to grant the remedy sought under s. 24 in light of its function and structure"[5]

  1. United Nurses of Alberta, Local 115 v Foothills Provincial General Hospital Board, 1987 CanLII 3392 (AB QB), at para 13
    Weber v Ontario Hydro, 1995 CanLII 108 (SCC), [1995] 2 SCR 929
  2. United Nurses of Alberta at para 13
  3. The only specific reference is s. 290, 462.48
  4. R v Hynes, 2001 SCC 82 (CanLII) at para 26
  5. Hynes at para 27

Charter Remedies

In criminal law, the term "court of competent jurisdiction" arises from the words found in s. 24(1) of the Charter which provides that only courts of competent jurisdiction may order remedies for Charter breaches. [1]

A CCJ should include a trial judge.[2] But does not include a preliminary inquiry judge.[3]

A preliminary inquiry judge is not a CCJ and consequently cannot grant remedies under the Charter.[4]

A federal parole board is not a CCJ to grant Charter remedies.[5]

  1. Section 24(1) of the Charter reads: "Anyone whose rights or freedoms, as guaranteed by this Charter, have been infringed or denied may apply to a court of competent jurisdiction to obtain such remedy as the court considers appropriate and just in the circumstances."
  2. R v Rahey, 1987 CanLII 52 (SCC), [1987] 1 SCR 588
  3. Hynes
  4. R v Mills, 1986 CanLII 17 (SCC), [1986] 1 SCR 863 (S.C.C.) (""I agree that a judge presiding at a preliminary inquiry is not a court of competent jurisdiction for the purpose of granting a remedy under s. 24(1). This finding is subject to one exception however. I am of the view that the preliminary inquiry judge is a court of competent jurisdiction for making a finding under s. 24(1) as regards to a violation for the purpose of excluding evidence under s. 24(2).")
  5. Mooring v Canada (National Parole Board), 1996 CanLII 254 (SCC), [1996] 1 SCR 75 (S.C.C.)

Courts of Inherent Jurisdiction

Superior courts of the province possess "inherent jurisdiction" provided to them through s. 96 of the Constitution Act, 1982.[1] This jurisdiction cannot be removed by statute.[2]

Inherent jurisdiction has been characterized as a "residual" power that has been applied in a "limited" fashion.[3]

Courts of appeal does not have any inherent jurisdiction.[4]

  1. section 96 states under the heading of Appointment of Judges: "The Governor General shall appoint the Judges of the Superior, District, and County Courts in each Province, except those of the Courts of Probate in Nova Scotia and New Brunswick."
    Kourtessis v M.N.R., 1993 CanLII 137 (SCC), [1993] 2 SCR 53, at pp. 65-66 ( “Only superior court judges appointed under s. 96 of the Constitution Act, 1867 have inherent jurisdiction.”)
  2. MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. v Simpson, 1995 CanLII 57 (SCC), [1995] 4 SCR 725, c.f. Shreem Holdings Inc. v Barr Picard, 2014 ABQB 112 (CanLII), at paras 26 to 42
  3. Bass v Mcnally, 2003 NLCA 15 (CanLII),
  4. R v G.W., 1999 CanLII 668 (SCC), [1999] 3 SCR 597, per Lamer C.J.C., at para 8
    Kourtessis v M.N.R., at pp. 65-66 ( “And courts of appeal have no inherent rights to create appeals. Only superior court judges appointed under s. 96 of the Constitution Act, 1867 have inherent jurisdiction.”)

Sentencing Courts

Under Part XXIII of the Code [Sentencing] defines a "court" as:

716
...
"court" means

(a) a superior court of criminal jurisdiction,
(b) a court of criminal jurisdiction,
(c) a justice or provincial court judge acting as a summary conviction court under Part XXVII, or
(d) a court that hears an appeal; (tribunal)

...
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 716; R.S., 1985, c. 27 (1st Supp.), s. 154; 1995, c. 22, s. 6; 1999, c. 5, s. 29(E).


Part XXIV - Dangerous Offenders and Long-term Offenders

Definitions
752 In this Part,
"court" means the court by which an offender in relation to whom an application under this Part is made was convicted, or a superior court of criminal jurisdiction; (tribunal)
...
R.S., 1985, c. C-46, s. 752; 2008, c. 6, ss. 40, 61; 2010, c. 3, s. 8; 2012, c. 1, s. 35; 2014, c. 25, s. 29.


Courts of Nunavut

The territory of Nunavut is unique in Canada as it has only two rather than three levels of court. Unlike other jurisdictions, the trial level has is unified with only the Nunavut Court of Justice.

In various places in the Code, there is provisions that are redundant except that is conveys power specifically to the Nunavut Court of Justice, including ss. 536.1, 554(2), 555.1, 556(4), 561.1, 562.1, 563.1, 565(1.1), 566.1, 567.1, 569 (2), Part XIX.1 (s. 573 to 573.2), 686 (5.01), (5.1), (5.2), 695(3), 839(1.1). This unification has been in place since April 1, 1999.[1]

See Also