Criminal Court course of action
If you’ve been charged with a crime in British Columbia, chances are during the arrest and aftermath nobody told you what to expect. Probably all you learned was the date you’re to show up to court. And that’s if you were released from the police.
Upon arrest, there’s 2 immediate outcomes:
i. You’re released with a court date; or
ii. You’re detained for a bail hearing. Your bail hearing will consequence in either being released on bail or kept in jail until the outcome of your trial.
in spite of whether you’re released or not, the criminal course of action is similar.
1. 1st turn up
The next step is either you or your lawyer goes to court on the date you were given upon release (or if in jail, the date set by the court). The 1st turn up serves 2 purposes:
i. You receive the particulars of your case from the prosecutor; and
ii. a date is set for your arraignment hearing.
observe that sometimes the prosecutor won’t have the particulars ready for your first turn up. In that case, you or your lawyer will need to attend again before your arraignment hearing.
2. The Particulars
The particulars is the paperwork setting out the prosecutor’s case against you. You or your lawyer can’t build your defence until you review the particulars. The particulars include the charges against you, the police notes, the report to crown counsel (the prosecutor), any technical data (such as breathalyzer results) and any other evidence the prosecutor will rely on.
3. The Arraignment Hearing
The arraignment hearing is held in the court where your case proceeds. This hearing is where you, the accused, go into a plea (not guilty if defending). Then your trial and perhaps preliminary hearing (see below) are scheduled.
4. Preliminary Inquiry
If the prosecutor is listing your charge(s) as indictable (more serious offences), then you are entitled to a preliminary inquiry. If your case is going by summary charge, then you aren’t entitled to a preliminary hearing.
A preliminary inquiry is an opportunity for you or your lawyer to ask questions of the prosecutor’s witnesses – usually the investigating police officers. This is an opportunity to learn more about the case against you. This hearing is held in a court and the testimony of all the witnesses is under oath.
5. Pre-Trial Conference
Before your trial, you or your lawyer must attend a pre-trial conference (PTC). This is usually held 1 to 1.5 months before your trial and is also held in the court. At the PTC, any noticeable issues are resolved. Otherwise, you (or your lawyer) and the prosecutor confirm with the court that both sides are ready for trial.
6. The Trial
Finally, you the accused, get your day in court. Sometimes a estimate will decide the matter that day. Other times, the estimate will keep up off making a decision. If the estimate holds off making a decision, you’ll get a date to return to court at which time the estimate will issue her or his decision.
If a jury heard your case, then the jury will be instructed to decide your matter right away. You’ll learn the outcome upon the jury making its decision.
If you’re found not guilty, you’re free to go. If you’re found guilty, then you’ll be scheduled a sentencing date (sometimes sentencing may occur right away after the decision). If the sentencing hearing is scheduled in the future, either you’re held in jail until then or released until then. This chiefly depends on the seriousness of the conviction and whether jail will be likely sentence. For example, if you’re found guilty of a first DUI, then you won’t be held in jail. If you’re found guilty of 1st degree murder, you’ll most likely be held in jail.
7. The Sentencing Hearing
You hope your matter doesn’t come to a sentencing hearing. However, sometimes it does. the time of action at a sentencing hearing is that both sides will make submissions for a particular kind of sentence (i.e. jail length, probation terms, licence restrictions, etc. – depending on the character of the conviction). The estimate then decides and orders your sentence.
In a nutshell, that’s the criminal course of action in British Columbia.