GLOSSARY

Criminal Law Glossary

A list of legal terms often used in criminal charges or proceedings

 

 

Alternative Measures Program (AMP) : The Alternative Measures Program is a program managed by Alberta Correctional Services and is utilized as an alternative to judicial proceedings with persons alleged to have committed minor offences. The goals of the program are:

To prevent the individual from obtaining a criminal record

To prevent the continuation of criminal behaviour

To promote community involvement

To foster community awareness through participation

 

The program may be offered to first and second time adult offenders in lieu of the formal court process. The Crown makes the decision for entry into the program and if approved the person is referred to Community Corrections.

 

If the individual takes responsibility for his or her actions and is interested in the program, an agreement is signed which stipulates what the offender must do to satisfy program requirements. The benefit to the offender is that he/she will not acquire a criminal record if the program is successfully completed.

 

Assault:
1) A person commits an assault when

(a) without the consent of another person, he applies force intentionally to that other person, directly or indirectly;

(b) he attempts or threatens, by an act or a gesture, to apply force to another person, if he has, or causes that other person to believe on reasonable grounds that he has, present ability to effect his purpose; or

(c) while openly wearing or carrying a weapon or an imitation thereof, he accosts or impedes another person or begs.

 

Conditional Sentence Order (CSO) : If a person is convicted of an offence, other than a serious personal injury offence as defined in section 752, a terrorism offence or a criminal organization offence prosecuted by way of indictment for which the maximum term of imprisonment is ten years or more or an offence punishable by a minimum term of imprisonment, and the court imposes a sentence of imprisonment of less than two years and is satisfied that the service of the sentence in the community would not endanger the safety of the community and would be consistent with the fundamental purpose and principles of sentencing set out in sections 718 to 718.2, the court may, for the purpose of supervising the offender’s behaviour in the community, order that the offender serve the sentence in the community, subject to the offender’s compliance with the conditions imposed under section 742.3.

742.1 If a person is convicted of an offence and the court imposes a sentence of imprisonment of less than two years, the court may, for the purpose of supervising the offender’s behaviour in the community, order that the offender serve the sentence in the community, subject to the conditions imposed under section 742.3, if
(a) the court is satisfied that the service of the sentence in the community would not endanger the safety of the community and would be consistent with the fundamental purpose and principles of sentencing set out in sections 718 to 718.2;
(b) the offence is not an offence punishable by a minimum term of imprisonment;
(c) the offence is not an offence, prosecuted by way of indictment, for which the maximum term of imprisonment is 14 years or life;
(d) the offence is not a terrorism offence, or a criminal organization offence, prosecuted by way of indictment, for which the maximum term of imprisonment is 10 years or more;
(e) the offence is not an offence, prosecuted by way of indictment, for which the maximum term of imprisonment is 10 years, that
(i) resulted in bodily harm,
(ii) involved the import, export, trafficking or production of drugs, or
(iii) involved the use of a weapon; and
(f) the offence is not an offence, prosecuted by way of indictment, under any of the following provisions:
(i) section 144 (prison breach),
(ii) section 264 (criminal harassment),
(iii) section 271 (sexual assault),
(iv) section 279 (kidnapping),
(v) section 279.02 (trafficking in persons — material benefit),
(vi) section 281 (abduction of person under fourteen),
(vii) section 333.1 (motor vehicle theft),
(viii) paragraph 334(a) (theft over $5000),
(ix) paragraph 348(1)(e) (breaking and entering a place other than a dwelling-house),
(x) section 349 (being unlawfully in a dwelling-house), and
(xi) section 435 (arson for fraudulent purpose).

 

DUI: 

Driving Under the Influence. This is a term often used to describe the charge of Impaired driving under section 253(a) of the Criminal Code. This is slang term and doesn’t actually exist in Canadian Law.

 

DWI: 

Driving While Impaired. This is also a term used to describe impaired driving or having a blood alcohol over the legal limit (having consumed alcohol in such a quantity that the concentration in the person’s blood exceeds eighty milligrams of alcohol in one hundred millilitres of blood; otherwise known as Over 80)

 

Dangerous Driving:
1) Every one commits an offence who operates

(a) a motor vehicle in a manner that is dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances, including the nature, condition and use of the place at which the motor vehicle is being operated and the amount of traffic that at the time is or might reasonably be expected to be at that place;

(b) a vessel or any water skis, surf-board, water sled or other towed object on or over any of the internal waters of Canada or the territorial sea of Canada, in a manner that is dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances, including the nature and condition of those waters or sea and the use that at the time is or might reasonably be expected to be made of those waters or sea;

(c) an aircraft in a manner that is dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances, including the nature and condition of that aircraft or the place or air space in or through which the aircraft is operated; or/li>

(d) railway equipment in a manner that is dangerous to the public, having regard to all the circumstances, including the nature and condition of the equipment or the place in or through which the equipment is operated.

 

 

Flight from Police

249.1 (1) Every one commits an offence who, operating a motor vehicle while being pursued by a peace officer operating a motor vehicle, fails, without reasonable excuse and in order to evade the peace officer, to stop the vehicle as soon as is reasonable in the circumstances.
(2) Every one who commits an offence under subsection (1)

(a) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or

(b) is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.
(3) Every one commits an offence who causes bodily harm to or the death of another person by operating a motor vehicle in a manner described in paragraph 249(1)(a), if the person operating the motor vehicle was being pursued by a peace officer operating a motor vehicle and failed, without reasonable excuse and in order to evade the police officer, to stop the vehicle as soon as is reasonable in the circumstances.
(4) Every person who commits an offence under subsection (3)
(a) if bodily harm was caused, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 14 years; and
(b) if death was caused, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life.

 

 

Discharges (absolute or with conditions):

Where an accused, other than an organization, pleads guilty to or is found guilty of an offence, other than an offence for which a minimum punishment is prescribed by law or an offence punishable by imprisonment for fourteen years or for life, the court before which the accused appears may, if it considers it to be in the best interests of the accused and not contrary to the public interest, instead of convicting the accused, by order direct that the accused be discharged absolutely or on the conditions prescribed in a probation order made under subsection.
Effect of discharge
3) Where a court directs under subsection (1) that an offender be discharged of an offence, the offender shall be deemed not to have been convicted of the offence except that

(a) the offender may appeal from the determination of guilt as if it were a conviction in respect of the offence;

(b) the Attorney General and, in the case of summary conviction proceedings, the informant or the informant’s agent may appeal from the decision of the court not to convict the offender of the offence as if that decision were a judgment or verdict of acquittal of the offence or a dismissal of the information against the offender; and

(c) the offender may plead autrefois convict in respect of any subsequent charge relating to the offence.

 

 

Failure to Stop at scene of accident

252. (1) Every person commits an offence who has the care, charge or control of a vehicle, vessel or aircraft that is involved in an accident with
a. (a) another person,
b. (b) a vehicle, vessel or aircraft, or
c. (c) in the case of a vehicle, cattle in the charge of another person,
and with intent to escape civil or criminal liability fails to stop the vehicle, vessel or, if possible, the aircraft, give his or her name and address and, where any person has been injured or appears to require assistance, offer assistance.
(1.1) Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1) in a case not referred to in subsection (1.2) or (1.3) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years or is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.
(1.2) Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1) knowing that bodily harm has been caused to another person involved in the accident is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding ten years.
(1.3) Every person who commits an offence under subsection (1) is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for life if
d. (a) the person knows that another person involved in the accident is dead; or
e. (b) the person knows that bodily harm has been caused to another person involved in the accident and is reckless as to whether the death of the other person results from that bodily harm, and the death of that other person so results.
(2) In proceedings under subsection (1), evidence that an accused failed to stop his vehicle, vessel or, where possible, his aircraft, as the case may be, offer assistance where any person has been injured or appears to require assistance and give his name and address is, in the absence of evidence to the contrary, proof of an intent to escape civil or criminal liability.

 

 

Hybrid offences:

Also known as a dual procedure offence, these types of offences give the prosecution the right to elect to proceed either by indictment or summarily.

 

Indictable offences:

These are similar to Felony offences in the U.S. An indictable offence is more serious than a summary conviction offence. Conviction for an indictable offence can expose you to greater penalties such as longer prison sentences. If an Accused is prosecuted by indictment, he or she is entitled to a trial by jury or judge alone and to a preliminary inquiry. Some exceptions do apply.

 

Mental Health Diversion:

“The Provincial Diversion Program helps ensure that, whenever possible, adults and adolescents with a mental illness who commit minor, low-risk offenses and come into conflict with the law receive appropriate care, support and treatment in the community rather than in the criminal justice system.

If eligible for Diversion Services, and with consent, the individual receives community-based care and treatment that focuses on the specific mental health or life skills issues that may have contributed to the commission of the offense.”

(http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/2767.asp) Generally if the offender completes the program successfully, the Crown’s office will withdraw the criminal charge.

 

Possession:

(a) a person has anything in possession when he has it in his personal possession or knowingly

(i) has it in the actual possession or custody of another person, or

(ii) has it in any place, whether or not that place belongs to or is occupied by him, for the use or benefit of himself or of another person; and

(b) where one of two or more persons, with the knowledge and consent of the rest, has anything in his custody or possession, it shall be deemed to be in the custody and possession of each and all of them.

 

Preliminary Inquiry:

An initial inquiry that occurs at the demand of an accused wherein a judge screens the proposed criminal charge against the available evidence. If there is sufficient evidence, the case will be set for trial at the Court of Queen’s Bench.

 

Sell (under Controlled Drugs and Substances Act): includes offer for sale, expose for sale, have in possession for sale and distribute, whether or not the distribution is made for consideration

 

Summary offences:

These are similar to misdemeanour offences in the U.S. Summary conviction offences are considered less serious than indictable offences because they are punishable by shorter prison sentences and smaller fines. These offences appear both in the federal laws of Canada and in the legislation of Canada’s provinces and territories. An Accused must be charged with a summary conviction offence within 6 months after the act happened.

 

Traffic (under Controlled Drugs and Substances Act): means, in respect of a substance included in any of Schedules I to IV,

(a) to sell, administer, give, transfer, transport, send or deliver the substance,

(b) to sell an authorization to obtain the substance, or

(c) to offer to do anything mentioned in paragraph (a) or (b),

 

 

Theft: (1) Every one commits theft who fraudulently and without colour of right takes, or fraudulently and without colour of right converts to his use or to the use of another person, anything, whether animate or inanimate, with intent

(a) to deprive, temporarily or absolutely, the owner of it, or a person who has a special property or interest in it, of the thing or of his property or interest in it;

(b) to pledge it or deposit it as security;

(c) to part with it under a condition with respect to its return that the person who parts with it may be unable to perform; or

(d) to deal with it in such a manner that it cannot be restored in the condition in which it was at the time it was taken or converted.

 

Time when theft completed
(2) A person commits theft when, with intent to steal anything, he moves it or causes it to move or to be moved, or begins to cause it to become movable.

 

Uttering Threats

264.1 (1) Every one commits an offence who, in any manner, knowingly utters, conveys or causes any person to receive a threat
(a) to cause death or bodily harm to any person;
(b) to burn, destroy or damage real or personal property; or
(c) to kill, poison or injure an animal or bird that is the property of any person.
Punishment
(2) Every one who commits an offence under paragraph (1)(a) is guilty of
(a) an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years; or
(b) an offence punishable on summary conviction and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding eighteen months.