Sources of Canadian Criminal Law

Criminal law and procedures in Canada are based mainly on: 

The Criminal Code and Other Sources of Federal Criminal Law

The Criminal Code is the main source of criminal law and procedure in Canada.

The Youth Criminal Justice Act is the primary source of law and procedure for youth offenders.

Some other important Canadian criminal laws include the Canada Evidence Act, Contraventions Act, Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, Firearms Act and Food and Drugs Act.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is part of the Canadian Constitution.  The Charter guarantees certain fundamental rights. These include political rights, such as free speech, and legal rights. Legal rights in the charter include:

Section 7

The right to life, liberty, and security of the person.

Section 8

The right to be secure against unreasonable search and seizure.

Section 9

The right not to be arbitrarily arrested.

Section 10

The right to know why you’re arrested, to get a lawyer immediately and to be told that you have that right.

Section 11

Rights if you’re charged with an offence, including:

  • The right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty
  • The right not to be a witness against yourself
  • The right to a trial within a reasonable time
  • The right to be informed without unreasonable delay of the specific offence you are charged with
  • The right to reasonable bail unless there is just cause (a good reason) to deny it
  • The right to trial by jury if an offence can be punished with imprisonment for five years or more

Section 12

The right not to be subject to cruel and unusual treatment or punishment.

Section 13

Protection against the use of your own testimony to prosecute you (the right against self incrimination).

Section 14

The right to an interpreter in a court proceeding.

More Information

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