Criminal Justice System In Canada

| Updated on March 21, 2024

The criminal justice system of Canada works to ensure that the country is a law-abiding society and the overall safety and wellness of the people living there. The system assures that the court justice system is fair, effective, and accessible to every citizen of the country. The judicial system of Canada is a mixture of different interrelated components where the success of each element ensures a proper justice system.

Basic Components of the Criminal Justice System

The judiciary of Canada has been built on a few fundamental principles that every judiciary system of the country follows. 

Innocence Assumption

The criminal cases begin with the presumption of every accused person is innocent. The Crown Counsel will have to prove that the accused has committed a crime or not.

Due Process

This process involves a thorough analysis of the facts of each case and ensuring the importance of the legal rights of the people charged with a criminal offence.

Independent Judicial System

The criminal laws of Canada follow the basic concept of fairness and that everyone has a right to impartial judges, without interference and fair hearing without outside influence.

Openness and Accessibility

The criminal justice system of Canada ensures openness and accessibility so that every citizen of the country can have faith and confidence in the court system. 

EQuality Through Upholding the Law

It follows the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms that says all people, residing and bearing citizenship of Canada, are equal.

Key Parts of the Judiciary 

Laws of Canada are connected with four parts that are interrelated to each other and work together to protect the society, starting from the committing of a crime to the offenders release to the community. 

All the components have the option of influencing each other, but the central justice system of Canada governs them. These four parts are:

  1. Policing
  2. Courts
  3. Corrections
  4. Parole


This part of the system is the duty of the federal, provincial, and municipal governments. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is the central law enforcement authority at the federal level.

At the provincial and municipal levels, local police forces work under the contract of the RCMP. The role of the police is to capture and lay a charge against the accused based on the Criminal Code of Canada.


The main role of the court is to decide on the charges laid on the accused and give a verdict on what kind of punishment or reward the accused would get. The judges and jury determine the sentence of punishment according to the Criminal Code, and it is the judge who always passes sentence.

If the accused is a minor of between 12 to 17 years, the Youth Criminal Justice Act is imposed, and the judge sentences the person accordingly. The criminal court of Canada has a hierarchy starting from the central court- Supreme Court of Canada, then to the Court of Appeal, then to the Provincial Superior Court, and finally at the bottom is the Provincial Court.


Once the federal court decides on the sentence of the accused, the federal or provincial correction system takes on the accused to serve his/her sentence. If the accused is an adult and has been sentenced to more than 2 years, the federal correction system deals with the person. In case of the sentence being less than 2 years, the accused goes under the provincial correction system. 


If an accused has served a certain amount of time of his/her sentence with gratitude and good behaviour, the parole system may offer the accused to serve the remaining time in the society under supervision and control of the parole board. The parole board sets the rules and regulations for the accused to live into the society, and violating them causes the accused to go back to prison.

How the Criminal Justice System in Canada Works

  • Person commits crime
  • Police and investigating department investigates the crime
  • The investigation finds facts and charges are implied on the accused
  • The accused appears in court
  • The judges and jury decide on a verdict, and the judge sentences the accused
  • The accused may appeal in the appeal court
  • Court and criminal records are kept
  • Records can be suspended once appeal court decides on a different verdict


The criminal laws of Canada work to uphold fairness and the human right of both the victim and the accused. With the recent review, engagement, and changes in the justice system, the overall procedure has become more authentic and effective that is trusted by both the victim and accused.

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