Criminal Law

Criminal law prohibits and punishes what the state regards as anti-social behaviour.

Canadian criminal law is mostly contained in federal statutes such as the Criminal Code of Canada and the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act. There are also very many other federal and provincial statutes which create quasi-criminal regulatory offences. Statute law is subject to interpretation by judges in individual cases. This process results in case law which can be used by judges in determining how to decide future cases. Canadian criminal law therefore consists of statute law and case law.

In Canada there is very close relationship between criminal law and constitutional law; which establishes, allocates and limits the power of the state. Canadian constitutional law includes the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Criminal cases involve legal disputes between people and the state. The Charter protects people affected by the actions of the state. This means every Canadian criminal case is also a Charter case. Canadian criminal lawyers must therefore have a solid understanding of how the Charter applies in criminal cases. The Charter issues which arise in a criminal case are often complex. How those issues get decided can dramatically affect the outcome.