C. Appeals of Summary Conviction Offences

AuthorSteve Coughlan
ProfessionProfessor of Law. Dalhousie University

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Appeals from summary conviction offences share many qualities with appeals from indictable offences, though there are some differences worth noting. The most notable difference is the court to which the appeal is brought. Indictable offences are appealed to the court of appeal for the province. Generally speaking, summary conviction appeals are taken to the province’s superior court of criminal jurisdiction that is not the court of appeal.123There are also differences in the grounds upon which an appeal can be brought, which are broader for both accused (called the "defendant" in the case of summary conviction offences) and the Crown, and are essentially parallel. Under section 813 a defendant can appeal a conviction or order made against her, and the Crown can appeal "an order that stays proceedings on an information or dismisses an information." In addition, that section lets both parties appeal sentences, verdicts of not criminally responsible, and fitness to stand trial decisions. No explicit limits are attached to any of these grounds.

As with indictable offences, though, the bases for granting appeals are narrower than the grounds for launching them. Indeed, they are narrower in precisely the same way. Section 822(1) incorporates most of section 683 to 689 by reference. As a result, all of the rules in section 686(1) that concern appeals from convictions or acquittals are equally applicable to summary conviction offences. Recall as well that when a

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summary conviction offence is appealed along with an indictable of-fence, the appeals can, with leave, be combined.124As a result of this incorporation other provisions applicable to indictable offences, such as the powers of the court in section 683, also apply. In addition, bail pending a summary conviction appeal can also be granted, though under the specific provisions in section 816 rather than those governing indictable offences.

There are, however, other notable differences between summary conviction and indictable appeals, which include the possibility of other methods of appeal. First, under section 822(4) it is possible for an appeal of a summary conviction matter to take place by trial de novo. Proceeding in this way can be justified if, because of the condition of the record-a grounds of decreasing relevance given the methods of recording proceedings in common use today-or "for any other reason," the interests of justice would be better served in this way. As a practical matter trials de novo are a rarity.

In addition sections 829 to 838 create an alternative method of appeal, though again these provisions are little used. They incorporate many of the provisions regarding other summary conviction appeals, but the grounds upon which they can be brought are more limited. Either party can appeal a decision in this way on the basis...

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