The Criminal Charge Process

January 24, 2019 Published by
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Being criminally charged is an intimidating process that should be guided by an experienced defense lawyer to ensure the best possible outcome. The criminal charge process is difficult to navigate without education and experience. Without legal representation, a person facing criminal conviction in any situation may experience more severe penalties and longer sentences.

The criminal charge process for an offence

Canada has a criminal charge process when it comes to prosecuting criminal law cases. These steps reveal why obtaining a defense lawyer is crucial to the outcome of a criminal case.


A criminal investigation varies in length depending on the type of crime that is at issue. At this step of the process, law enforcement agencies will seek evidentiary support to bring criminal charges against a person.

Laying of a Charge

The police are responsible for laying a charge after obtaining compelling evidence of a criminal act. This information is packaged and delivered to the Crown attorney, and if applicable, the defense lawyer who is already involved.

Notice to Appear and Bail

If a person is released after being charged, the accused will be given a date to appear in court to face the criminal charges. If the person is being held in jail, they will be given the opportunity to appear at a bail hearing for the Court to determine whether they should be released pending the outcome of the charges.

To Prosecute or Not

A Crown attorney will examine the evidence available and decide if the prosecution is in the best interest of the public and if it will likely end in a conviction.

When the criminal case reaches court

How The Case Will Be Heard

The majority of cases are held in Provincial Court with a judge. Persons facing certain criminal charges may have their trial heard with either:

  • A judge without a jury in the Provincial Court.;
  • The Queen’s Bench justice without a jury; or
  • With a jury in the Queen’s Bench justice. In these circumstances, a criminal lawyer will help navigate which option is best depending on the facts of the case.

The Plea

Any time prior to trial, the prosecutor and the defense lawyer will work together to reach a deal that will resolve the matter and without the need for a trial. The deal must be approved by the Court and is often called a disposition, where the charges are “disposed” of.

A Trial

If the case goes to trial, all parties will appear in court. The prosecutor, or Crown attorney, must establish guilt beyond a reasonable doubt in order for a Court to convict.

The Sentence

In a guilty verdict, a judge will decide on the proper sentencing for the convicted person. The judge may seek sentencing input from both prosecution and the defense lawyer involved.


The convicted person, with the help of a lawyer, can appeal the court’s decision on the guilty verdict or the sentencing results.

What should you do if you’ve been charged with a criminal offence?

If you have been charged, contact Pollock & Company as soon as possible. It is essential your rights are protected, and your case is tried accurately for the crime you are accused of in Canada. Call us today at 204.997.3967.

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