The Basics of Crime, Law and Justice in Canada

| Updated on March 21, 2024

The Criminal Justice System or CJS in Canada is essential for Canadians who wish to be safe, secure and productive in living their daily lives. It is necessary that as a Canadian, you know some basic things about crime, law and justice in the country.

You will need a criminal lawyer to understand the complex terminologies for that. One of the key foundations of producing a law-abiding and just society is making its people aware of the law and the code. Here, we will attempt to create the building blocks of the much diverse laws and forms of justice.

Who List Under the Crime, Law and Justice Procedures?

For a fair, efficient, and accessible system of justice to activate: the law, punishment for a crime and justice to the innocent, applies to everyone, including the Government, the police and public officials. This helps people to be assured of their safety in a community and builds their confidence in the system. 

Components of the CJS

The different interrelated components of CJS include Legislatures, Law Enforcement, Prosecution Services, Defense, Courts, Victim Services, Correctional Services, Legal Aid, Community Groups and Social Support Systems.

Of them, these four interdependent components of the CJS must always work with one another:

  • Police Forces
  • Courts
  • Correctional Services and
  • Parole Boards

The Police Force can lay charges against the offenders with the power granted to them. They also have the task to inform offenders of their rights. Police forces make the front line of intervention.

When charges are laid to the accused, the Court must carry forward a trial. The Crown Attorney decides which charges are laid and the Jury/Judge decides if the accused is guilty or innocent of the charges.

  • Correctional Services administer the sentences whether the accused gets imprisonment or probation.
  • Decisions regarding the release of the imprisoned lies with the Parole Board

How Does the CJS Operate?

Histories of common and civil laws have made way to create the current CJS. It regulates based on principles and procedures based on international conventions, community needs, the balance of truth and falsehood, right and wrong on the oppressor and the oppressed.

In establishing the just system, its three hands: legislative, judicial, and executive functions are also to be respected. To administer justice, each province has its own jurisdiction. It can choose to implement or defend the law from challenges and maintain prison and court for the prosecution of offences. To add, most criminal offences can be found in the Criminal Code.

It is important to remember that no level of the government can work successfully without interacting or involving with others in terms of carrying out mandates.

What Covers Criminal Law and Justice?

Criminal Law is listed under public laws. Such laws shed light on the relationship between society and a person. It also tells us what will be the roles of different levels of government to establish that relation, and more specifically, the law.

  1. A strong legislative framework makes it possible for criminal laws, and consequently, the CJS to work properly. Four basic foundations of the structure include the Criminal Code, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Youth Criminal Justice Act.
  2. Criminal Code is the legislation that regulates criminal offences. This is the federally enforced criminal law that governs penalties of theft, sexual assault, murders, etc. It can be drafted, corrected and revised by the Department of Justice.
  3. Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is the legislation that protects minorities from majorities’ representation in the Parliament, and that protects citizens against the State. It involves the fundamental rights of citizens, as of freedom of movement, living, language, equality, etc.
  4. Corrections and Conditional Release Act gives information on conditional releases.
  5. Lastly, the Youth Criminal Justice Act (previously known as the Young Offenders Act) marks youth as persons between 12 years to less than 18 years of age. It deals with offences by young individuals who will not be subject to the Criminal Code for their offences.


Although the CJS forms a complex system with all of its crime laws and justice, each involved player is essential in it. Understanding his role and responsibility and how to enact it in times of need is important for every citizen of Canada. The roles may vary but for an efficient and just system, it is uncompromisable.

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