section 475(3)


An accused who reappears at trial cannot have missed proceedings reopened unless exceptional circumstances are present.


475(3) Where an accused reappears at his trial that is continuing pursuant to subsection (1), he is not entitled to have any part of the proceedings that was conducted in his absence re-opened unless the court is satisfied that because of exceptional circumstances it is in the interests of justice to re-open the proceedings.


Section 475(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada pertains to an accused person who fails to appear in court on a scheduled trial date. In such a case, the proceedings may continue in the absence of the accused person, under subsection (1) of the same section. However, if the accused person subsequently reappears, this provision limits their entitlement to have any part of the trial proceedings that occurred in their absence reopened for consideration. In the absence of exceptional circumstances, the court is not obligated to revisit any of the proceedings that took place while the accused was absent. Rather, the court must be satisfied that there were indeed exceptional circumstances that justify the reopening of those proceedings. This is because the interests of justice and fairness require that the accused has a fair opportunity to participate in their criminal trial. Such participation involves being present throughout the trial proceedings and having the opportunity to challenge the evidence presented against them. Overall, this provision seeks to ensure that accused persons have a fair trial in which their rights are protected, while also recognizing the importance of efficiency in the judicial process. If an accused person has a legitimate reason for missing part of their trial, then this provision ensures that their absence does not unfairly prejudice them. In this way, Section 475(3) serves to promote a just and equitable criminal justice system in Canada.


Section 475(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada delineates the conditions under which an accused person who reappears at their trial is entitled to have any part of the proceedings conducted in their absence reopened. Under normal circumstances, an accused who is absent during trial proceedings will forfeit their right to request the court to reconsider any matter they missed. However, 475(3) deems that an accused person may demand a reopening of the proceedings if the court is convinced there were exceptional circumstances that prevented their presence. In essence, this section of the Criminal Code seeks to ensure that each accused person is given a fair trial, even if they miss some of the proceedings. The law recognizes that various factors could prevent an accused from attending a trial, including illness, incarceration, or other unavoidable circumstances. Although not always ideal, the trial will carry on even if the accused can not be present. However, 475(3) provides a safeguard that stops the continued trial from prejudicing the accused's rights when they return. The provision on exceptional circumstances means that the court will only reopen proceedings if there were extremely compelling reasons why the accused's absence was unavoidable. As such, the nature of the exceptional circumstances is entirely subjective and rests on the court's evaluation of each particular circumstance presented before it. Some examples of exceptional circumstances might include severe illness such as a heart attack, hospitalization, or situations such as family death that require urgent attention. Moreover, the law requires that the reopening of proceedings must be justified by establishing that it is in the interests of justice. The primary purpose of justice in the criminal justice system is to ensure that a fair trial is conducted. Therefore, if the interests of justice predicate reopening the proceedings, then the court will consider the accused reasonably without prejudice. The interests of justice include ensuring that the evidence presented was fair and that the accused received an appropriate punishment if found guilty. The primary aim of the criminal justice system in Canada is to ensure that everyone receives a fair trial regardless of the circumstances. When an accused is absent from trial proceedings, it can be challenging to guarantee this fundamental right. However, Section 475(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada provides reassurance that even in the absence of an accused, the proceedings upheld will be fair, ensuring justice is served unreservedly. As such, the provision is a cornerstone of the Canadian Criminal Justice system in ensuring that every person receives a fair trial. Furthermore, 475(3) supports the principle of natural justice in the Canadian criminal justice system. The principle of natural justice requires that every person receives a fair hearing. In the same vein, Section 475(3) ensures that every accused party is allowed to present their case and defend themselves. The provision stops the proceedings from continuing in their absence without reasonable justification. In conclusion, Section 475(3) of the Criminal code of Canada is a crucial provision that ensures that every accused party receives a fair trial regardless of their absence during the proceedings. The section ensures that the accused party's rights are upheld, and it serves as a guard against the reoccurrence of prejudicial treatment. Ultimately, it strengthens the criminal justice system's legitimacy by guaranteeing that justice is served impartially.


Section 475(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada poses several strategic considerations for both the defense and prosecution in a criminal trial. It provides that an accused person who reappears at their trial after being absent is not automatically entitled to have any part of the proceedings reopened unless the court is satisfied that exceptional circumstances exist, making it in the interests of justice to do so. Here are some strategies that can be employed by both the prosecution and the defense when dealing with this section: For the Defense 1. Timing: The defense should time their re-appearance strategically to ensure they can make the most of an exceptional circumstance argument. Ideally, if a new witness or evidence has emerged while the trial was ongoing, the accused should reappear as soon as possible to ensure a fair representation of the evidence. 2. Establishing exceptional circumstances: The onus is on the defense to establish that exceptional circumstances exist to warrant the reopening of the proceedings. The defense should present detailed evidence and arguments in support of their position. For instance, if the accused had a medical emergency, was incarcerated, was not properly served with notice of court dates, or had to attend to family matters, such factors might be considered exceptional circumstances. 3. Preparing for an unfavorable ruling: In cases where the court denies a request to reopen the proceedings, the defense should have actionable strategies in place. For instance, the defense can present mitigation evidence to the court on the accused's behalf and emphasize to the jury the criticality of the excluded evidence to the case. For the Prosecution 1. Constricting the grounds for exceptional circumstances: Prosecution can lessen the risk of the court allowing the defense to reopen proceedings by only presenting evidence that is reliable and relevant. Such a tactic encourages the court to be more stringent on what it considers exceptional circumstances. 2. Objecting to re-opening: The prosecution can object to the defense's request to reopen the proceedings unless the accused person shows actual exceptional circumstances. The prosecution might also file an appeal or challenge to the reopening if it ultimately takes place, arguing that the trial would be tainted with the reintroduction of previously excluded information. 3. Challenging the exceptional circumstances presented: If the accused presents 'exceptional circumstances,' the prosecution can use cross-examination to expose them as illegitimate or exaggerated. The prosecution can also call witnesses and present evidence to undermine the accused's claims that there were genuine exceptional circumstances. Conclusion Section 475(3) of the Criminal Code of Canada can have big ramifications on a criminal trial's outcome. The section is an example of how, in Canadian law, there is a delicate balance between an accused person's right to a fair trial and the need for a just and effective criminal justice system. Both the prosecution and defense should anticipate and prepare for situations where the provision is invoked to ensure their respective sides are protected. By knowing the nuances of the provision and employing the right strategies, either party can turn the section to their advantage.