section 549(1.1)

INTRODUCTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION

If both the prosecutor and accused agree, a limited preliminary inquiry can be conducted and the accused may be ordered to stand trial without evidence on any other issues being recorded.

SECTION WORDING

549(1.1) If the prosecutor and the accused agree under section 536.5 to limit the scope of a preliminary inquiry to specific issues, the justice, without recording evidence on any other issues, may order the accused to stand trial in the court having criminal jurisdiction.

EXPLANATION

Section 549(1.1) of the Criminal Code of Canada pertains to the role of preliminary inquiries in criminal proceedings. A preliminary inquiry is a pre-trial hearing that takes place in front of a judge to determine if there is enough evidence to proceed with a trial in a higher court. It is an important step in the criminal justice process, as it allows the accused to hear the evidence against them and assess the strength of the case the prosecutor has put forward. Section 549(1.1) outlines a situation where the prosecutor and the accused may agree to limit the scope of the preliminary inquiry to specific issues. This agreement can be made under section 536.5 of the Criminal Code, which allows for a streamlined preliminary inquiry process when the parties agree to limit the scope. The purpose of limiting the scope of the preliminary inquiry is to focus on the most important and relevant issues in the case. This can help to save time and resources and prevent unnecessary evidence from being introduced. If the parties agree to limit the scope, the justice presiding over the preliminary inquiry can order the accused to stand trial in the court having criminal jurisdiction without recording evidence on any other issues. Overall, section 549(1.1) recognizes the importance of efficiency and effectiveness in the criminal justice system. By allowing the prosecutor and the accused to agree to limit the scope of the preliminary inquiry, the process can be made more efficient while still ensuring that the rights of the accused are protected and the evidence is thoroughly considered.

COMMENTARY

Section 549(1.1) of the Criminal Code of Canada provides a mechanism for limiting the scope of a preliminary inquiry to specific issues. Essentially, the prosecutor and the accused can agree to focus the inquiry on particular elements of the case, without delving into other issues that may be tangential or irrelevant. This can be useful in streamlining the inquiry process, as it can reduce the amount of time and resources required to gather and present evidence. The provision also gives the presiding justice the power to order the accused to stand trial in the court having criminal jurisdiction, even if evidence has not been recorded on all issues. This means that if the inquiry is focused on certain key elements of the case, and the available evidence is sufficient to establish those elements, the accused may be sent for trial on those charges. This can help to ensure that the justice system is efficient and effective in bringing cases to trial. However, there are certain concerns that may arise with respect to this provision of the Criminal Code. One issue is the potential for abuse by prosecutors, who may use this provision to unfairly limit the scope of the inquiry or to push for an expedited trial without fully exploring all relevant issues. This could result in wrongful convictions or a failure to properly hold those responsible accountable for their actions. Another concern is that focusing on specific issues may result in a myopic approach to the case, with important evidence or nuances of the situation being overlooked. This could lead to a less complete understanding of the events in question and a potentially flawed decision in court. Overall, section 549(1.1) of the Criminal Code of Canada is an important provision that can help streamline the inquiry and trial process. However, it must be used judiciously and with caution to ensure that all parties receive a fair and just outcome. It is vital that prosecutors and justices remain vigilant in their approach to such cases and take care to ensure that important information is not overlooked or unfairly excluded from consideration. By doing so, the justice system can function more efficiently while still upholding the principles of fairness and justice for all.

STRATEGY

Section 549(1.1) of the Criminal Code of Canada allows for the limitation of the scope of a preliminary inquiry to specific issues, if both the prosecutor and the accused agree to it under section 536.5. This provides for a number of strategic considerations and potential strategies that a lawyer might employ in relation to a criminal case. One strategy that may be employed by the defence is to seek agreement with the prosecutor to limit the scope of the preliminary inquiry to specific issues that are favourable to the accused. For example, if the evidence against the accused is weak but there is a strong likelihood that a particular charge could be proven, the defence may seek to limit the scope of the preliminary inquiry to that specific issue. This would increase the chances of the accused being discharged or acquitted, as the prosecutor would then have to prove the entire charge at trial, rather than just one specific issue. Another strategy that may be employed by the defence is to use section 549(1.1) as a bargaining tool in plea negotiations. If the defence is able to convince the prosecutor that there is a strong case to limit the scope of the preliminary inquiry to specific issues, the prosecutor may be more willing to negotiate a plea deal in exchange for the defence agreeing to such a limitation. This could result in a more favourable outcome for the accused, such as a reduced sentence or a lesser charge. Similarly, the prosecutor may also use section 549(1.1) as a strategic consideration in terms of plea negotiations. If the prosecutor believes that they have a strong case for a particular charge but are unsure about the strength of their case for other charges, they may be willing to agree to limit the scope of the preliminary inquiry to specific issues in exchange for the accused pleading guilty to the charge where the evidence is strongest. This could result in a conviction for the most serious charge, while avoiding the risk of the accused being acquitted on other charges. Ultimately, the strategic considerations around section 549(1.1) will depend on the particular circumstances of the case and the objectives of both the defence and the prosecutor. As such, it is important for lawyers to carefully consider the potential benefits and risks associated with seeking a limitation on the scope of the preliminary inquiry, and to develop appropriate strategies based on their analysis.