Plea of Not Guilty and Other Pleas

From Criminal Law Notebook
This page was last substantively updated or reviewed January 2015. (Rev. # 95311)


See also: Arraignment and Plea and Guilty Plea

Besides a plea of guilty, there exist pleas of "not guilty", "autrefois acquit", and "autrefois convict".

Plea of Not Guilty

The plea of "not guilty" will encompass any plea alleging a defence other than autrefois acquit or autrefois convict. Section 613 states:

Plea of not guilty

613 Any ground of defence for which a special plea is not provided by this Act may be relied on under the plea of not guilty.
R.S., c. C-34, s. 541.


Note up: 613

In addition to substantive defences, this plea will also cover pleas of:

Refusal to Plead

Where an accused refuses to make a plea or otherwise does not answer the question of plea, the presumption is that a plea of not guilty will be entered into the record (s. 606(2)).

Res Judicata and Related Pleas

See also: Res Judicata

Other Special Pleas

Nolo Contendre

A plea of nolo contendre (latin for “I am unwilling to contest”) is a plea recognized in US law, but does not have any foundation in Canadian criminal law. It is prohibited by virtue of s. 606(1) which lists all valid pleas.[1] A guilty plea that in substance amounts to a plea of nolo contendre will be invalid.[2]

  1. R v RP, 2013 ONCA 53 (CanLII), 295 CCC (3d) 28, per Watt JA, at para 38
  2. RP, ibid.

Special Plea for Defamatory Libel

See Defamatory Libel (Offence)

Not Guilty Plea By Young Persons

See also: Procedure for Young Accused#Guilty Plea

[omitted (1)]

When young person pleads not guilty

(2) If a young person charged with an offence pleads not guilty to the offence or pleads guilty but the youth justice court is not satisfied that the facts support the charge, the court shall proceed with the trial and shall, after considering the matter, find the young person guilty or not guilty or make an order dismissing the charge, as the case may be.


Note up: 36(2)

See Also