section 590(1)

INTRODUCTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION

This section states that a count is not objectionable if it charges multiple alternative offenses or if it is double or multifarious.

SECTION WORDING

590(1) A count is not objectionable by reason only that (a) it charges in the alternative several different matters, acts or omissions that are stated in the alternative in an enactment that describes as an indictable offence the matters, acts or omissions charged in the count; or (b) it is double or multifarious.

EXPLANATION

Section 590(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada is an important provision that deals with the formalities of charging an accused person. It states that a count, or a specific charge of a criminal offence, is not invalid solely because it lists different matters, acts, or omissions in the alternative, or because it combines two or more different offences into one charge. The purpose of this provision is to allow Crown prosecutors greater flexibility in drafting the charges against an accused person. It means that if the same conduct can be interpreted as falling under two or more different criminal offences, the prosecutor is not required to choose only one of those offences to charge the accused with. Instead, they can simply list the different offences in the same count and allow the judge or jury to decide which one, if any, has been proven beyond a reasonable doubt. Similarly, the provision permits the Crown to charge an accused person with multiple offences in the same count if those offences are closely related in terms of time, place, or circumstances. This can save time and resources for the court and the parties involved, as they do not have to hold separate trials for each individual offence. Overall, Section 590(1) provides a degree of flexibility and efficiency in charging an accused person with criminal offences, while still ensuring that the accused's rights to a fair trial and proper notice of the charges they face are protected.

COMMENTARY

Section 590(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada sets out the legal principle that a count in an indictment will not be considered objectionable simply because it charges in the alternative several different matters, acts, or omissions that are stated in the alternative in an enactment. In other words, a count can include multiple allegations against a defendant without being considered improper or unfair. This provision serves several important purposes. Firstly, it allows for a more flexible and efficient criminal justice system. By allowing multiple charges to be included in a single count, prosecutors can avoid the need to file separate charges for each alleged offense. This saves time and resources for both the prosecution and the court system. Furthermore, the provision ensures that defendants are not unfairly prejudiced by having to face multiple charges for one set of actions. For example, if a defendant is accused of stealing multiple items from a store, the prosecutor may choose to include all the thefts in a single count rather than pressing charges for each individual theft. This means that the defendant will only face one charge for the entire incident, rather than being burdened with multiple charges that could potentially result in a more severe overall sentence. Under Section 590(1), a count can also be considered valid even if it is double or multifarious. This means that a count can include multiple charges that may relate to the same overall incident but are distinct offenses in and of themselves. For example, a defendant may be charged with assault and battery for a single incident, even though these are two different offenses. This allows prosecutors to bring multiple charges that accurately reflect the nature and severity of a particular offense. However, it is important to note that this provision does not give prosecutors unlimited leeway to include any and all charges they wish in a count. A count must still comply with the basic rules of criminal procedure, such as the accused's right to know the nature and particulars of the charges against them. A count may also be subject to legal challenge if there is evidence that it has been brought in bad faith or is otherwise unfair to the defendant. In summary, Section 590(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada is an important provision that allows for greater flexibility and efficiency in the criminal justice system. By allowing for multiple charges to be included in a single count, it helps to ensure that defendants are not unfairly burdened with multiple charges for a single set of actions. However, it is important to ensure that any count is fair and complies with the basic principles of criminal procedure, in order to maintain the integrity of the justice system.

STRATEGY

Section 590(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada provides important guidance for criminal lawyers and practitioners when dealing with count charges. It states that a count is not objectionable solely on the grounds that it is double or multifarious or charges in the alternative. The section provides a useful starting point for deciding how to deal with multiple charges, whether to plead guilty or to contest the charges. However, successful outcomes often depend on careful consideration of strategic considerations in each case. One strategic consideration that arises when dealing with Section 590(1) is the relation between the charges. Although one count may encompass multiple offences, the charges must be related to each other to avoid duplication of evidence, which could unfairly prejudice the defence. A skilled lawyer would consider the specific facts and the relationship between the charges to decide how best to deal with a count. For example, if the multiple charges are unrelated crimes, challenging the count as multifarious may provide a useful defense strategy. On the other hand, if several charges are related, a pleading of guilty on the basis of one count may appear more reasonable than contesting multiple counts at a trial. Another strategic consideration when dealing with Section 590(1) is the effect of multiple counts on the sentencing phase. If the accused is convicted of multiple counts, a skilled lawyer would focus on the sentencing phase where multiple counts could lead to the imposition of a higher sentence. A lawyer might use a strategy of plea bargaining, for example, to reduce the number of charges to one count, which would result in a lower sentence. Going further, a strategic consideration with respect to Section 590(1) is the evidence that the prosecutor plans to use against the accused. A skilled lawyer would seek to identify and challenge the most damaging evidence that could be presented. For example, a prosecutor may use the same evidence to support multiple charges, thus leading to the risk of unfair prejudice against the defendant. A better strategy for a defence lawyer in this scenario may involve challenging the hearsay rule or introducing new evidence that can weaken the strength of the prosecution's case. Lastly, when dealing with Section 590(1), a strategic consideration that could be employed would be for the defense to argue that the count charge violates the accused's Charter rights. For example, the issuance of an overly broad count charge may infringe upon the right to a fair trial or the presumption of innocence. A skilled lawyer, in this case, would explore the possibility of seeking an acquittal on the basis of Charter rights violations. In conclusion, Section 590(1) provides guidelines for the preparation of charges by prosecutors and the defense strategy. However, a successful outcome in defending against multiple count charges depends on a strategic approach to the evidence, the nature of the charges, and the potential impact on sentencing. A skilled lawyer would employ these strategies in deciding the best course of action to take in a given case.