Change of Venue

AuthorSteve Coughlan/Alex Gorlewski
264 Preliminary Matters / Pre-trial Motions
2.5(b) Change of Venue
Is it possible to hold a fair
trial with an impartial jury in
the area where the alleged
oence occurred?1
The accused’s trial
shall be held there
The accused’s trial
shall be held elsewhere
in the province
Can the proceedings be
held in the accused’s oicial
There is a presumption at common law that an accused’s trial should take
place in the area where the oence is alleged to have occurred. This remains
the standard practice today: R v Minor, 2014 ONSC 1909 at para 6. The commu-
nity where crime occurs is, after all, that which is most aected by it, and may
be the only source of witnesses and other evidence needed to fairly adjudicate
any resulting charges. It is also, more likely than not, where the accused lives.
A sense of justice and convenience for everyone involved will usually make
it the most appropriate place for the criminal process to play out: R v Suzack
(2000), 141 CCC (3d) 449 at para 30 (Ont CA).
Despite the enduring currency of this presumption and practice, it need
not always hold, and s 470 of the Criminal Code, RSC 1985, c C-46 [Code] allows
any court in a province to try an oence committed within its borders. The
Code also contains two provisions — ss 599(1) and 531 — specically designed
to address situations where justice or expediency requires that proceedings be
moved outside the area that engendered them. Section 599(1) allows a court to
change the location of an accused’s trial where:
(a) it appears expedient to the ends of justice; or
(b) a competent authority has directed that a jury is not to be summoned at
the time appointed in a territorial division where the trial would other-
wise by law be held.

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