AuthorSteve Coughlan
ProfessionProfessor of Law. Dalhousie University

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absolute jurisdiction offence: An offence listed in section 553 of the Code. These offences can only be tried by a provincial court judge, and so the accused has no election.

ancillary powers doctrine: The process through which new police powers can be created at common law. The test for the creation of ancillary powers is drawn from the British case R. v. Waterfield, which is applied in Canada today in a way quite distinct from the approach in its country of origin.

arrest: An arrest consists of words of arrest accompanied either by the touching of the person with a view to detention or by the person submitting to the arrest. The word "arrest" need not actually be used, provided the accused can be reasonably supposed to have understood that she was under arrest. Arrest powers are given in the Criminal Code to everyone, including private citizens, and additional arrest powers are given to property owners and peace officers.

Attorney General: A member of cabinet and the chief law officer for a jurisdiction. The Attorney General has jurisdiction over all or most matters of criminal law, including law-making and prosecutions. In most jurisdictions, the Attorney General is also responsible for policing, although this role is sometimes taken on by the Solicitor General or some other minister. The Attorney General is given various discretionary powers in the Criminal Code, some of which must be exercised

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personally and some of which can be exercised on his behalf by a Crown prosecutor.

bail: The name in common usage for the process by which a justice can release a person who has been accused of an offence until the trial is held. Bail can be granted either unconditionally or on various conditions. Properly known as "judicial interim release."

challenge for cause: The process by which the Crown or the accused can challenge a potential juror in order to suggest that the person should not serve on the jury. The most common basis for challenge for cause is that the juror is not indifferent between the Queen and the accused, which amounts to a claim that the juror will not act impartially.

change of venue: Moving the location of a trial from one territorial jurisdiction to another.

charge document: The document setting out the charges based upon which an accused will stand trial. See information and indictment.

Charter of Rights and Freedoms: Sections 1-34 of the Constitution Act, 1982, setting out various guaranteed rights which, subject to the justification clause in section 1 of the Charter, take priority over any other legislation. The most important sections for criminal law purposes include the fundamental freedoms guaranteed in section 2 (such as freedom of expression), the legal rights provisions in sections 7-14 (such as freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, the right to counsel, and so on), and the remedies provisions in sections 24 and 52.

common law: Judge-made law, as distinct from laws set out in statutes or regulations.

Constitution Act, 1867: An Act of the British Parliament that is the first of Canada’s constitutional documents, and initially created Canada as a separate country from Great Britain. It is the source of the division of powers between the federal and provincial governments.

count: An individual charge within a single information or indictment.

court of appeal: The highest court in a jurisdiction for indictable of-fences, but designated differently in various provinces and territories. For summary conviction matters, the court of appeal is the jurisdiction’s superior court of criminal jurisdiction that is not the highest court in the jurisdiction. See the definitions in sections 2, 673, and 812 of the Code.

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court of criminal jurisdiction: A trial-level court hearing criminal matters, but designated differently in various provinces and territories. See the definition in section 2 of the Code.

criminal offence: A violation of any non-regulatory...

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