AuthorKent Roach
Criminal law is enacted and applied in Canad a in an increasingly
complex constitutional framework that is ex amined in Chapter 2. The
basic elements of crimi nal and regulatory offences are t he prohibited
act and the required fault element, which are exa mined in Chapters
3 and 5, respectively. Chapter 4 examines how criminal offences are
expanded by various provisions prohibiting attempted and unfulf‌illed
crimes and par ticipation as an accomplice in crimes. Special provi-
sions governing regulatory of fences and corporate crime a re examined
in Chapter 6. Various defences to crimes are ex amined in subsequent
chapters, including intoxication (Chapter 7), mental disorder and au-
tomatism (Chapter 8), and self-defence, necessity, and duress (Chap-
ter 9). Chapter 10 examines the application of general principles of
crimina l liability in the context of some selected speci f‌ic offences, in-
cluding the various forms of homicide, sex ual, property, and terrorism
offences. It also examine s the provocation defence, which only applies
to reduce murder to manslaughter. Punishment depends on the exer-
cise of sentencing disc retion, which is exami ned in Chapter 11. A f‌inal
chapter examines models of the criminal justice system and trends in
the crimin al law.
A 2014 victimization study suggests that about 20 percent of all Can-
adians are victims of crime in a year, down from 25 percent in 2004.
In 2014, this amounted to 6.4 million criminal incidents, including
various forms of theft (50 percent), assault (22 percent), sexual assault
(10 percent), and robbery (3 percent). The perpetrator of most violent
crime is often someone known to the v ictim, and the site of most vio-
lence is the home.
In only 31 percent of cases in the 2014 survey did victims report the
crime to the police. The reasons for not reporting va ry, but often relate
to a perception that the incident was too minor to justify reporting or
it was a personal matter. Other reasons included concerns that the of-
fender would not be adequately punished or the police would not be
effective or that the victim did not want to be involved with the courts.
In 2016, there were just over 1.9 million crimes reported to the po-
lice. This represented a 28 percent decrease in crime reported per cap-
ita since 2006. There were 611 homicides and 777 attempted murders.
There were also about 220,000 assaults and 21,000 sexua l assaults re-
ported to the police. Although they receive the most attention in the
press and in appeal court c ases, homicides make up only 0.2 percent
of violent crimes reported to the police. The majority (80 percent) of
crimes reported to the police are non-violent. They include 70,500 inci-
dents related to impaired dr iving, of which 96 percent involved alcohol
and 4 percent other drugs.
The majority of crimes reported to the police do not result in char-
ges. The majority of cases in which ch arges are laid are resolved with-
out a trial and end in a f‌indi ng of guilt. In a process commonly known
as plea bargaining, t he prosecutor may withdraw some charges or ta ke
certain positions on sentence if the accused agrees to plead gui lty. The
accused may receive a more lenient sentence because he or she has pled
guilty, with judges only departing f rom joint submissions by prosecu-
tors and the defence about an appropriate sentence if the recommended
sentence will bring t he administration of justice into disrepute.
In 2014/15, there were 328,028 cases completed in adult court.
These cases di sposed of 992,635 charges, which ref‌lects the fact that
most accused face three or more charges from the many crimina l of-
fences that Parliament has en acted and continues to enact. There was a
plea or f‌inding of guilt in 63 percent of case s, withdrawal or a stay gen-
erally by the prosecutor in 32 percent of cases, acquitt als in 4 percent
of cases, and altern ative f‌indings, such as not criminally res ponsible by
reason of mental disorder, in 1 percent of case s.

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