Criminal Law and Civil law are the two broad categories of law in Alberta. Criminal law covers acts of purposefully harming someone or something and the effects it has on the victims and society at large. By definition, a crime is any deliberate act that results in harm or injury to another person or their property, but it goes further than that; it’s also considered a crime to turn a blind eye on a criminal offense. The crown operates as the voice of the community and is responsible for laying out the evidence against the suspect on behalf of the victim and the crown.
Crown prosecutors work with the police in gathering evidence, and when they have sufficient proof of crime, they take it to court where they present it to a judge. If the judge rules against the defence, the case goes to trial and the prosecutors must convince the jury beyond reasonable doubt that a crime was committed, and that the offender meant to commit the crime.
In order for an offender to be convicted, it has to be proven that they intentionally meant to cause injury to the victim. For instance, striking a person is considered a crime, but a person can not be convicted of assault if the blow was ruled to be an accident. Civil law proceedings differ in a few ways from criminal law. For instance, it takes more concrete evidence to find the defendant guilty in a criminal case than it does in a civil lawsuit.
Courts and juries require evidence beyond reasonable doubt that the accused is responsible for causing deliberate harm, and this gives the prosecution a hard time because it is an area easily manipulated by the defense team. Although the prosecution has to work harder in order to convict, it is the only way to ensure that the wrong people don’t go to jail.
So exactly which crimes fall under criminal law?
According to the Criminal Code or Code criminal, these offenses are what fall under the category of criminal law in Calgary, Alberta:
- Criminal negligence
- Aiding suicide
- Killing by influencing the mind
- Forcible confinement
- Causing bodily harm
- Aggravated assault
- Assault with a weapon
- Breach of trust
- Criminal negligence
- Sexual assault
- Sexual assault with a weapon
- Aggravated sexual assault
When covering criminal law, crimes are usually divided into major components, which stand as follows:
- Offenses against rights of property
- Offenses against a person and his or her reputation
- Disorderly houses, gaming and betting
- Invasion of privacy
- Sexual offenses, public morals and disorderly conduct
- Firearms and other weapons
- Offenses against public order
This covers the main body of the criminal code, but all the crimes are subdivided further, and the rest of the criminal code involves countless appendices, which relate to specific crimes. Not all crimes in Canada fall under the criminal code. Some of the exceptions are the Contraventions Act, Food and Drugs Act, Controlled Drugs and Substance Act, Canada Evidence Act, Firearms Act, Youth Criminal Justice Act and so on.
The Criminal Code of Canada sets out the framework for sentencing in criminal cases. Many factors determine a criminal sentencing. For instance, if a crime was perpetrated by a person in a place of authority, it could weigh on their culpability. Similarly, if the defendant was proven to have committed the crime based on factors such as the following or any other similar factor, then they wouldn’t really have any plea.
- Hate of race
- Ethnicity or nationality
- Religious beliefs
- Physical or mental disability
- Sexual preference
Persons aged 12 to 17 may also be charged under the criminal code in which case they would be prosecuted under the same laws, but their sentencing is almost always adjusted as per the provisions of the Youth Criminal Justice Act. Some cases call for a harsher penalty, and it’s the prosecutor’s mandate to decide which crimes are severe enough to warrant a stricter penalty on the minor. The offender could receive an adult sentencing if he is over 14 years of age. If not, the court can wait until the convict turns 14 years old before amending his sentence to invoke a harsher verdict.
Several amendments have been made to the Criminal Code, and that may continue to some extent based on the ever contentious amendments and provisions made on subjects such as terrorism and gun ownership. In the future, amendments may also be seen to laws on abortion, contraception, the decriminalization of homosexual acts between consenting adults, authorization of breathalyzer tests and so on. The Supreme Court of Canada closely observes the amendments made to the Criminal Code, and it may strike down sections it deems intrusive or unconstitutional.