Government of Saskatchewan
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Wednesday, April 23, 2014
Saskatchewan Justice

Absolute discharge
The lightest sentence given to a person found guilty of a criminal offence. The person is free to go and no conviction is registered.

Accused
A person who is charged with a crime.

Acquittal
A judgment by the court that the accused is not guilty of the charge.

Admissible evidence
Evidence that is relevant to the trial and may be heard in court. The judge may rule that certain evidence cannot be presented.

Affirmation
A legally binding promise to tell the truth.

Appearance notice
A notice that tells the accused to be present in court at a specific time to answer charges that have been laid.

Arrest
To deprive a person of liberty, through legal authority, by holding the individual in custody.

Assault
The intentional or threatened use of force against another person.

Bail
The processed of being released from custody prior to the trial or the hearing of an appeal against a conviction.

Bench warrant for arrest
When an accused fails to appear in court, the court can issue a bench warrant for arrest to authorize the police to take the accused into custody to appear before the court.

Beyond a reasonable doubt
The level of proof required to find a person guilty of committing the crime.

Charge
A formal accusation that a person has committed a specific crime.

Civil proceedings
Court proceedings between private individuals. One individual or company sues another to enforce a private right or redress a private wrong.

Common law
The law within judicial decisions. Originally it was based on customs "common" to all of England.

Compellable witness
A witness who can be forced by subpoena to give evidence in court.

Complainant
The person who states that a crime has been committed.

Conditional Discharge
When a convicted person is ordered to obey certain conditions for a specific period of time.

Confession
A statement made by the accused admitting guilt. Confessions which have been made freely and voluntarily may be allowed in court as evidence.

Contempt of court
Interfering with the administration of justice or ignoring the rules of the court. Showing unwarranted disrespect for the court, refusing to testify in court or failing to obey an court order are the most common types of contempt of court.

Conviction
A judgement by the court that the accused is guilty of the charge.

Corroborating evidence
Evidence by a witness or source that supports evidence already given to the court.

Criminal Code of Canada
A federal statute that defines crimes, maximum punishments, and legal procedures for dealing with those crimes.
Consolidated statute - Department of Justice Canada

Cross examination
The Crown and the defence counsel both have the right to question a witness that they did not call to the stand to testify. The defence cross-examines the prosecution witnesses and the prosecution cross-examines the defence witnesses.

Crown prosecutor
The Crown Prosecutor is a lawyer who represents the Crown in a criminal case. They present evidence in Court so that the judge can determine wheather the charged person should be convicted.

Defence counsel
The lawyer representing the defendant or accused.

Defendant
The person who is sued or against whom a legal proceeding has been taken.

Direct examination
When a witness is asked questions by the lawyer who called the witness.

Dual procedure offences
A criminal offence that can be prosecuted by a summary conviction or indictment. These offences may be tried by the quicker summary process with a trial before a judge alone, or by indictable proceedings with the accused having the option of first having a preliminary trial and then a trial in front of a judge alone or a judge and jury. The decision is made by the Crown prosecutor, based on the seriousness of the offence.

Forensic
Medical procedures and scientific testing done for use in court.

Guilty
The decision by the judge or jury that the accused committed the crime. The accused can admit that he or she committed the crime by pleading guilty.

Hearing
The presentation of evidence in court. For example, a preliminary inquiry, trial or sentence hearing.

Hearsay
Information given to a witness by another person. The witness did not see the information first hand. The witness does not have personal knowledge of the original event. Hearsay is not admissible in court.

Indictable offence
The more serious criminal offences. These include crimes like murder and treason.

Indictment
The formal procedure used to deal with serious charges. It forces a judgment into a higher court. The accused is granted wider protection, such as trial by judge and jury, because of the serious penalties.

Information
The court document that starts the prosecution of a summary conviction offence.

Interim Orders/Ruling
Temporary orders made during the legal process that are not final and are subject to change once the court makes a verdict. For example: in custody matters, one parent may be granted custody of the children on an "interim" basis until trial or settlement.

Intermittent sentence
An intermittent sentence allows the person to serve the prison term in intervals over a long period of time. (e.g. on weekends) An intermittent sentence may be no more than 90 days long.

Judge
A person with authority to hear evidence and decide cases in court.

Judicial interim release
The legal procedure by which an accused in custody is released until trial. Also known as a bail hearing.

Jurisdiction
The range of powers and/or territory over which a body may act. In court, jurisdiction concerns the type of case and the physical area over which the court has legal authority. Jurisdiction must be proved in every case.

Jury
A group of people chosen by the Crown and defence counsels from a pool of ordinary citizens. The jury listens to the evidence, follows the judge's instructions on how to apply the law, makes findings of fact and decides whether the accused is guilty or not guilty.

Justice of the Peace
An officer of the court who has some of the powers of a judge.

Moving traffic offence
These are offences such as disobeying stop or yield signs. It also includes vehicle equipment problems and applies to municipal by-laws for moving traffic offences.

No contact order
A court order preventing the accused from seeing or speaking to someone.

Non-moving traffic offence
These are provincial offences which are non-moving or non-traffic (offences not directly related to driving, but to licencing, permits, plates, passengers, overweight loads and wildlife. This includes municipal by-laws for non-moving traffic offences, such as noisy parties and animal offences, for the summary offence ticket.

Oath
A legally binding promise to tell the truth by swearing on the Bible or other religious document. A person who does not want to swear on a religious document makes an affirmation.

Offence
A crime.

Parole
The early release of a person from prison. The individual continues serving the sentence outside of prison but under supervision. The released prisoner must obey specific conditions of parole. If the conditions are violated the individual will be sent back to prison.

Plea
The answer given by an accused when charged with a criminal offence - "guilty" or "not guilty".

Plea bargaining
Negotiations between the defence counsel and Crown counsel concerning the charges against the accused and the plea.

Preliminary inquiry
A hearing to determine whether or not there is enough evidence against the accused to justify holding a trial.

Pre-sentence report
A description of the offender's background and personal situation, prepared by a probation officer. The judge may request it to help decide an appropriate sentence.

Probation
A sentence given to a person convicted of an offence that requires the person to obey certain conditions. It does not require the person to pay a fine or spend time in jail.

Prosecute
To conduct legal proceedings against a person charged with a criminal offence.

Psychiatric assessment
A description of the accused's state of mind, prepared by a mental health professional. The judge considers it when deciding if the accused can stand trial.

Quasi-criminal offences
Provincial statute offences are not criminal offences but are prosecuted using the same legal procedures as criminal offences. They are referred to as like criminal offences or quasi-criminal offences. For example, offences under the provincial Liquor Act or Motor Vehicle Act.

Recognizance
The accused person's promise to pay a specific amount of money if he or she fails to comply with certain conditions set by the court. This debt is in addition for any further charges for failing to appear.

Remand
Held in custody until next court appearance.

Reserve judgement
When the judge hearing the case takes time to research, study the law, or review the evidence presented at the trial before making a decision.

Restitution Order
An order for a person to pay restitution. The Court can order an offender to pay restitution to a victim for the amount of damage or loss caused by a criminal act.

Sentence
The punishment given to an individual convicted of a crime.

Show cause hearing
A hearing where the Crown counsel tries to convince the court that the accused should be held in custody until the trial. This is also known as a bail hearing.

Statement
A written description of events given to the police. It is signed by the person making the statement.

Statute law
The laws enacted by legislation.

Subpoena
An order of the court telling a person when and where to appear as a witness.

Summary offence
A less serious criminal offence with a maximum punishment of six months in jail and/or a $2000 fine.

Surety
A person who enters into a bond for a certain amount of money on behalf of another person. The person is responsible for the accused person appearing in court and abiding by court imposed behaviour conditions. If the accused person does not comply, the surety forfeits all or part of the bond.

Suspended Sentence
A punishment given to a person convicted of an offence which does not require the person to spend time in jail.

Testimony
Statements made in court, by a witness under oath.

Trial
A hearing where both sides present evidence and the court makes a decision.

Undertaking to appear
A document signed by the accused, promising to appear in court at a specific time and place. The undertaking may also require the accused to remain in the area, report to the police at specific intervals, or not communicate with certain people. Breaking these promises may result in further criminal charges.

Verdict
The decision of a judge or jury as to the guilt of the accused.

Voir dire
A special hearing where a judge decides whether evidence can be presented at trial. It is a trial within a trial, where the victim may be called to testify.

Warrant for arrest
An order from the justice of the peace or judge, giving the police permission to arrest someone.



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