Chapter 7 Vocab Flashcards Preview

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Flashcards in Chapter 7 Vocab Deck (43):


It is the person charged with perpetrating a crime. The accused is also known as the defendant. They are allowed to represent themselves at their own trial but are they are advised to seek out a lawyer for help since the law is complex.



It is the application to a higher court to examine the decision made by a lower court. An appeal from the Provincial Court concerning a summary conviction offence is heard by one judge of the Superior Court of the province. With respect to appeals in relation to indictable offences, it is reviewed by the appeal division of the Superior Court which consists of a panel of three or five judges.



It is the party that puts forth an appeal. Appeals can be filed by the Crown or defence counsel regarding a decision that they believe is unjust. Either side can also appeal the sentence given to a defendant found guilty. For example, Crown counsel could file an appeal that states that a sentence should be lengthened, or defence could file an appeal that the sentence be shortened.



It is the first part of a criminal trial where the Court clerk reads the charge and the accused enters a plea. If the plea is not guilty, the Crown and defence attorneys would choose jurors from the jury panel who is present at the arraignment and under the judge's supervision.


Beyond a Reasonable Doubt

It is a standard of proof whereby the accused's guilt must be proven to the extent that a reasonable person would have no option but to come to the conclusion that the accused committed the crime. If there is any doubt of the accused's guilt, the accused must be acquitted.


Burden of Proof

It is the Crown's duty to prove the guilt of the accused beyond a reasonable doubt. It is not the accused's responsibility to demonstrate innocence. Proof of guilt must be beyond a reasonable doubt.


Challenge for Cause

This is the right for either counsel (Crown or defence) to exclude someone from jury duty for a particular reason. There can be three major reasons as follows: if a juror has already formed an opinion on the case, or the juror is physically unable to perform the duties of a juror, or the juror has been found guilty of a serious offence.


Character Evidence

It is evidence used to establish the likelihood that the accused is the type of a person that would or would not carry out an illegal action. The Crown is not allowed to attack the accused's character as this would perhaps infer to the jury that since the accused has a "bad character," he or she must be guilty. Defence counsel is allowed to bring forward evidence of the accused's good character to convince the jury that the defendant is not the type of person that would have perpetrated the crime. If the defence introduces character evidence, the Crown is permitted to rebut it by presenting contradictory character evidence.


Charge to the Jury

It is the judge's explanation to the jurors of how the law is applicable to the case before them. Moreover, the judge will also instruct the jurors on how to consider the evidence and how to return a verdict in accordance with the law. However, the judge must be very careful in making the charge to the jury. If the charge is deficient in any way, it could form the basis for a successful appeal. After the charge has been given, the jury is led by the sheriff to the jury room where the jury members decide on their verdict.


Circumstantial Evidence

This is indirect evidence that results in a reasonable inference of the accused's guilt. This type of evidence is introduced when there is not eyewitness testimony and is mostly allowed in court unless the connection between the evidence and the inference is too weak to help decide the case. The judge decides on the admissibility of a piece of evidence on the basis of being certain that the accused's guilt is one of the conclusions that could be inferred from the evidence.


Court Clerk/Court Reporter combined position in BC

This court official is the assistant to the judge. Court Clerks swear the witnesses in, announce the beginning and end of the court session, keep a record of trial exhibits, and record everything that is said verbatim during the trial resulting in a court transcript of the trial.


Court of Appeal

It is a court with the authority to examine decisions made by lower courts. The Supreme Court of Canada is Canada's highest court of appeal.


Cross Examination

It is the second questioning of a witness, performed by the opposing attorney and designed to determine the accuracy of the testimony. It is also intended to convince the jury that there are some discrepancies in the witness's testimony that weaken the other side's case.


Crown attorney

This is a lawyer representing the government, responsible for instituting legal proceedings against the defendant. Their goal is to investigate and punish criminal offences to ensure society's safety. However, their role is not solely to obtain a conviction but to put forth credible evidence of a crime. Crown attorneys must prepare the government's argument by researching the law, gathering the evidence for the trial, reviewing exhibits, and taking statements from witnesses.


Defence counsel

It is the attorney that defends an accused person on trial. Defence counsel represents the interests of the person charged. If the defendant enters a plea of not guilty, the defence counsel will attempt to demonstrate that there exists a reasonable doubt of the defendant's guilt. In the case of the accused pleading guilty or being found guilty following a trial, defence counsel will suggest a fair sentence to the judge. If the Crown and defence are in agreement on a fair sentence, a joint submission would be presented to the judge. After listening to the recommendation, the judge will decide on the sentence..


Direct Evidence

It is testimony given by an witness to a crime to prove an alleged fact. The most well known type is an eyewitness account of a crime. For example, "Beatrice testifying that she saw Samir assault Dawn and take her purse would be considered direct evidence. However, direct evidence can be questioned as Samir's lawyer could argue that Beatrice has poor vision and left her glasses at home that day."


Direct Examination

This is the first questioning of a witness to establish what he or she observed about the crime. It is also known as an examination-in-chief.


Directed Verdict

It is a choice made by the judge to withdraw the case from the jury and dismiss the charges against the defendant. This may happen if the defence introduces a motion for dismissal if they believe that Crown counsel has failed to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.


Duty Counsel

It is an attorney on duty (or on call by phone) in a police station or court which offers free legal advice to persons just arrested or appearing before the court. Duty counsel can advise clients of the right to plead guilty or not and can assist them in applying for bail or seeking an adjournment (a postponement). At times, a duty counsel can represent clients when they plead guilty or appear at a sentencing hearing.



It is information that tends to prove or disprove the elements of an offence. An important source of the Crown's evidence is the testimony of the arresting officer and other witnesses. Often, the prosecutor submits physical evidence which could comprise fingerprints, weapons, and pieces of clothing belonging to the victim or the defendant.


Federal Court of Canada

This refers to a court that hears cases involving the federal government and comprises an appeal and trial division. It has authority to try civil claims that include the federal government. It also has the authority to hear disputes by the provincial government with the federal government. It can also hear appeals from federally appointed boards, commissions, and administrative tribunals (for example, the Immigration Appeal Board and the National Parole Board).


Hearsay Evidence

It is evidence provided by a witness that is based on information received from someone else and not personal knowledge (that is, first-hand experience of what a witness saw or heard). For example, if a witness said that someone told them an individual stabbed someone, this would be hearsay evidence as it is not based on what they saw or heard.


Hung Jury

It is a jury that cannot reach an unanimous decision. In this case, the jury is discharged and a new jury is hired to try the case again.



It is the court official tasked to try cases in a court of law and to sentence convicted persons. Judges make decisions on whether evidence can be brought forward (admissibility). Judges explain the law as it applies to the case. Finally, they control the flow and events of the court and are responsible for sentencing.



In a criminal trial, it is a group of 12 people that are chosen by the Crown and defence counsel who decide guilt or innocence of the accused. They are not required to give a reason for their verdict. In BC, jury members must be at least 19, a Canadian citizen, and a resident of BC. One cannot be a police officer, lawyer, employee of certain government agencies (or other certain occupations). One cannot have been found guilty of certain criminal offences within the last five years.


Justice of the peace

They have less authority than a judge but have some power, particularly in the preliminary stages of a case. They can issue arrest and search warrants. They can also hear bail applications. In some jurisdictions, the justice of the peace can listen to cases involving infractions of municipal bylaws, and various provincial statutes, namely the Highway Traffic Act.


Jury Panel

It is the group of randomly selected citizens (potential jurors) from which jury members are selected.



It is the permission to appeal a case from a lower court to a higher one. However, specifically with respect to the Supreme Court of Canada, this can only happen for significant national issues or when decisions conflict in provincial appeals courts.


Motion for Dismissal

It is a request by defence counsel that the judge dismiss the charges pending against the accused after the Crown has finished calling its witnesses and the defence counsel believes that the Crown has failed to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. If the judge agrees with defence counsel, the judge will withdraw the case from the jury and proceed to a judge directed verdict of not guilty.


Peremptory Challenge

It is the right of the Crown or the defence to exclude someone from jury duty without providing a reason. A criminal trial is an adversarial process, with the person charged on one side and the state or government on the other. The state is the stronger party. A peremptory challenge is an important right as it was established as a way of giving the accused some control over the adversarial process and to oppose the state powers. The person charged can say, “I don’t want that person deciding my case.” The number of peremptory challenges used depends on the severity of the case. For example, if the case is first-degree murder or treason, each side may use 20 peremptory challenges. For sentences that last more than 5 years, 12 peremptory challenges are allowed. Where the sentence is less than 5 years, 4 challenges are allowed.



This is knowingly making untrue statements while giving evidence under oath (using the Bible) or solemn affirmation to tell the truth. This is a major crime and the Criminal Code views it as an indictable offence with a maximum penalty of 14 years' imprisonment.


Preliminary Hearing

It is a screening process to determine whether or not there is enough evidence to put the accused on trial. The Provincial Court Criminal Division conducts the hearing and screens the case before putting the accused on trial in a higher court. This protects the accused from an unnecessary trial as well as protects the Crown and society from unnecessary expense.


Provincial Court

It is the lowest court in the order of the Canadian Courts. The cases are tried by a judge alone (no jury). Provincial courts are divided into separate divisions such as criminal, civil (small claims) and family. 90% of all criminal cases are handled by the provincial courts. They have the jurisdiction to hear summary conviction offences which are less serious crimes that carry a lighter penalty. Examples include public nudity, causing a disturbance, and water-skiing without a spotter. In addition, they have the jurisdiction to hear certain indictable offences which are more serious crimes that carry heavier penalties. Examples are theft or mischief under $5000 (Section 553 Criminal Code), and damaging property.



It is a an attempt to contradict evidence introduced by the opposite side. For example, this can occur after the defence has presented all its evidence following the Crown's initial direct examination. The Crown then has the opportunity for rebuttal.



It is the party that replies (or responds) to an appeal following the appellant filing it.



The sheriff is the official in court that is responsible for jury management (summons, pays, secludes and guards jurors). They also deal with the accused in custody, and maintain security.



It is a court order that requires the witness to appear in court on a specific date to give evidence. If the witness does not appear, the witness could be found guilty of contempt (disobeying the court's authority and obstructing the path of justice). A witness may be fined a maximum of $100 and/or be sentenced to jail for 90 days.


Superior Court of the Province

It is the highest level of the provincial court system, both criminal and civil. It consists of a trial division and an appeal division - Court of Appeal BC and Supreme Court of BC - that surpass the jurisdiction of the lower courts. They hear all offences from s. 469 of the Criminal Code and must be tried by a judge and jury unless the accused and the Attorney General agree to trial by judge alone. Examples of these offences are murder and treason.


Supreme Court of Canada

This is the highest appeals court in Canada and is strictly an appeals court (no trial division). It also handles constitutional issues introduced by the federal government. Cases are heard by a panel of 5, 7, or 9 justices. The Supreme Court of Canada only grants leave (permission to appeal a case from a lower court to a higher one) for matters of national significance or when decisions conflict in the provincial appeals courts.



It is where counsel can reply to the opposing side's rebuttal.


Voir Dire

This is a mini trial that takes place during the trial, to determine whether a certain piece of evidence is allowed or not. Jury members are removed from the court and completely excluded from this procedure.



It is the interception of telephone communications usually at some distance away from the target location.



They are persons who give evidence on the crime committed while under oath in a court of law. Witnesses my be subpoenaed to require them to appear in court on a specific date. Witnesses must take an oath on the Bible or make a solemn affirmation to tell the truth. Witnesses who knowingly make false statements while giving evidence under oath can be convicted of perjury which is a serious crime under the Criminal Code resulting in up to 14 years' imprisonment.