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Your Basic Guide And Introduction To Criminal Law In Canada

Your Basic Guide And Introduction To Criminal Law In Canada

Criminal law in Canada essentially governs all criminal procedures, evidence, investigations, and substantive law about all sorts of crimes in the country. Criminal law, in essence, covers all matters and instances of conduct that are prohibited by law, and not adhering to which can cause repercussions and be stated as a criminal offense.

These laws are put into place keeping in mind the safety and security of the general public, protecting societal norms and morals, and protecting people’s lives, property, and peace. They also focus on the protection of law and order in all public and private institutions and the overall preservation of the state. 

If you are someone interested in understanding Canadian criminal law or what a criminal lawyer in Canada navigates through , keep reading to find a brief guide and introduction:

Provincial vs Federal: Who does what?

While the constitution of Canada rests the power of forming criminal laws and procedures with the federal government, provincial governments also have the power regarding creating laws on certain subjects. However, if the statutes for provincial offenses ever contradict those of federal statutes, the latter always prevails in determining the verdict for the offender. 

Additionally, while provincial governments are charged with the responsibility of policing, hiring prosecutors, and handling administrative works in courts, federal governments are responsible for the appointments of supreme and county court judges. 

Can laws in Canada be changed? 

Laws pertaining to criminal offenses in Canada are also subject to amendments in light of changing societal values such as laws relating to sexual offenses and marriage. They may also change in light of technological advancement such as laws regarding telecommunication, identity theft, and credit card fraud.

Recently, there have been large-scale changes in sentencing in Canadian courts, and much more changes are anticipated. Due to growing awareness in Canadian society regarding the benefits of sentencing offenders with sentences other than imprisonment, these changes have been presenting themselves in courts. Sentences that feature rehabilitation and community service are now preferred over capital punishments.

What is the presumption of innocence?

Under Canadian criminal law, every criminal proceeding and case begins with the essential presumption that the individual that stands on trial is innocent. If court cases begin with the belief that the accused is guilty, the proceedings would be unjust. Counsels that represent the overall community are hence then held responsible to prove beyond a reasonable doubt whether or not the accused party is guilty.

Another concept related to the presumption of innocence is due process, which essentially refers to the thorough examination of all facts of each case. Due process ensures that the legal rights of all parties involved in a case are protected and that no undue damage is done to any party.

What is meant by an independent judiciary?

Any individual who is accused of a crime reserves the right to have their plea and their case be decided by an independent and impartial judge. That is to say, the judiciary should be independent of all other branches of the government so that any verdict or sentence is not influenced by any other irrelevant party in any way.

While decisions under an independent judiciary may not always make all parties happy, judicial systems must run inherently to ensure the safeguard of Canadian law. Canadian courts also believe in the openness and accessibility of courts which ensure public confidence.


The Canadian criminal code and pertaining laws have been established keeping in mind the safety and security of Canadian residents and the public. All of these laws have been put into place after careful consideration, and this is proven by Canada’s high rehabilitation rate for criminal offenders. 

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