INTRODUCTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION
568 Even if an accused elects under section 536 or re-elects under section 561 or subsection 565(2) to be tried by a judge or provincial court judge, as the case may be, the Attorney General may require the accused to be tried by a court composed of a judge and jury unless the alleged offence is one that is punishable with imprisonment for five years or less. If the Attorney General so requires, a judge or provincial court judge has no jurisdiction to try the accused under this Part and a preliminary inquiry must be held if requested under subsection 536(4), unless one has already been held or the re-election was made under subsection 565(2).
Section 568 of the Criminal Code of Canada outlines the circumstances under which the Attorney General may require an accused person to be tried by a court comprising a judge and jury, even if the accused elects to be tried by a judge alone or a provincial court judge. This provision applies unless the alleged offence carries a maximum punishment of imprisonment for five years or less. This provision gives the Attorney General considerable power to demand a jury trial for certain offences, regardless of the accused's preference. The intention behind this provision is presumably to increase public confidence in the administration of justice by ensuring that serious criminal cases are tried by a group of community members who represent a cross-section of society. It is important to note that if the Attorney General invokes section 568 and requires a jury trial, the judge or provincial court judge no longer has jurisdiction over the case. Additionally, if the accused has not yet had a preliminary inquiry, they are entitled to request one under subsection 536(4), unless the accused has already had one or has re-elected to be tried by a court composed of a judge and jury under subsection 565(2). Overall, section 568 serves as a mechanism for the state to demand a more participatory form of justice for serious crimes, while recognizing that some less serious offences do not necessarily require a full jury trial.
Section 568 of the Criminal Code of Canada addresses the power of the Attorney General to require an accused to be tried by a court composed of a judge and jury, despite the accused's election to be tried by a judge alone. This provision gives the Attorney General the authority to override an accused's election for a judge alone trial, but only in cases where the alleged offence is punishable with imprisonment for more than five years. The rationale behind this provision is to ensure that more serious offences are tried by a jury, which is seen as a more objective and impartial body than a single judge. While the provision may seem to limit an accused's right to choose their mode of trial, it is important to note that the Attorney General's power under section 568 is not absolute. The Crown must still meet a threshold of persuading the judge that a jury trial is necessary in the interests of justice. The judge must assess various factors, such as the seriousness of the offence, the complexity of the legal issues, and the potential prejudice to the accused, before deciding whether to order a jury trial. However, this provision has also been criticized for its potential to undermine an accused's right to a fair trial. The power of the Attorney General to require a jury trial means that defendants may be forced to face a potentially harsher sentencing regime and more unpredictable outcomes. Moreover, there are concerns that the provision may be used improperly to generate more convictions because juries may be more likely to convict accused than are judges. On the other hand, supporters of section 568 argue that the provision is necessary to ensure that serious offences are tried by a body of the accused's peers, rather than leaving the decision in the hands of a single judge. Juries can more effectively weigh the evidence and reach a fair and just verdict and sentence than can a single judge. In practice, the decision to order a jury trial under section 568 is a complex balancing act by the judge. It requires careful consideration of the competing interests of the parties and the public interest in fair trials. Ultimately, whether section 568 is a helpful or a harmful provision depends on one's perspective and one's faith in the impartiality of the Canadian judicial system.
Section 568 of the Criminal Code of Canada grants considerable power to the Attorney General to require an accused to be tried by a court composed of a judge and jury. As such, this section has significant strategic implications for both the defence and prosecution. One potential strategy for the defence is to elect to be tried by a judge alone, rather than a judge and jury. This could be advantageous if the accused believes that a judge may be more sympathetic to their case, or if they believe that a jury may be more likely to be swayed by emotional arguments. However, if the Attorney General decides to require a jury trial, this strategy may backfire. Another strategy for the defence is to try to convince the Attorney General that a jury trial is not necessary or appropriate in their case. This could involve arguing that the alleged offence is not serious enough to warrant a trial by jury, or that a judge alone would be better equipped to understand and apply the law in their case. This could be particularly relevant in cases where the alleged offence is relatively minor, or where the case involves complex legal issues that may be difficult for a lay jury to understand. On the prosecution side, one strategy could be to wait until after the accused has elected to be tried by a judge alone before requesting a jury trial. This could prevent the defence from using this strategy themselves, and could increase the likelihood of a successful conviction. However, the prosecution would need to be able to justify their decision to request a jury trial, and may face pushback from the accused or their legal counsel. Another potential strategy for the prosecution would be to use the threat of a jury trial as a bargaining chip in plea negotiations. If the accused is willing to plead guilty to a lesser offence, the prosecution may agree to forgo the requirement for a jury trial. This could be advantageous for both sides, as it could save the time and expense of a full trial, while still resulting in a guilty verdict. In conclusion, Section 568 of the Criminal Code of Canada grants significant power to the Attorney General to require an accused to be tried by a court composed of a judge and jury. As such, both the defence and prosecution need to carefully consider their options when dealing with this section. Potential strategies for the defence include electing to be tried by a judge alone or arguing against a jury trial, while the prosecution could use the threat of a jury trial in plea negotiations or wait until after the accused has elected to be tried by a judge alone before requesting a jury trial. Ultimately, the right strategy will depend on the specific circumstances of each case.