section 785

INTRODUCTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION

Section 785 defines information in relation to the Criminal Code of Canada.

SECTION WORDING

785 In this Part, "information" includes (a) a count in an information, and (b) a complaint in respect of which a justice is authorized by an Act of Parliament or an enactment made thereunder to make an order.

EXPLANATION

Section 785 of the Criminal Code of Canada defines the scope of the term "information" as used throughout the Part of the Code which discusses various procedures of prosecution, trial, and sentencing. Specifically, the term information includes (a) a count in an information, which refers to a formal accusation of a specific offence(s) made by a prosecutor against a person or persons; and (b) a complaint in respect of which a justice is authorized by an Act of Parliament or an enactment made thereunder to make an order, which refers to a formal accusation of an offence(s) made by any person who is not a prosecutor, and whose complaint is authorized to be dealt with and reviewed by a justice of the peace or a judge. Overall, the inclusion of these types of accusations in the definition of information reflects the Canadian legal system's commitment to ensuring that individuals are only prosecuted for offences that are properly and lawfully established through the various court processes. By clarifying the terminology used in the Criminal Code, Section 785 aims to reduce confusion and ensure that all parties involved in the legal process are on the same page in terms of the specific types of accusations and charges that can be pursued under various legal mechanisms.

COMMENTARY

Section 785 of the Criminal Code of Canada is a relatively short provision that defines the term information" for the purposes of certain provisions of the Code. Specifically, it includes any count within an information, which is a formal document that sets out the criminal charges against an accused person. Additionally, it includes a complaint, which is a less formal document that can be filed with a justice of the peace in certain circumstances. The purpose of this provision is to clarify the scope of these terms as they are used in other parts of the Criminal Code. For example, many of the procedural provisions that relate to the laying and prosecution of charges in criminal cases refer to information" or complaint" without specifically defining what those terms mean. By including these definitions in one place, Section 785 helps to avoid confusion and ensure consistency in the use of these terms throughout the Code. One interesting aspect of Section 785 is that it specifically mentions that a justice of the peace may be authorized by an Act of Parliament or an enactment made thereunder to make an order in respect of a complaint. This is significant because it suggests that complaints are not always treated in the same way as formal informations when it comes to the authority of the courts to make orders. For example, under some provincial statutes, a justice of the peace may have the power to issue a search warrant based on a complaint, whereas such authority may not exist in relation to an information. This reflects the fact that complaints are generally less formal than informations and may be used in different contexts. Overall, Section 785 of the Criminal Code is a relatively minor provision that is primarily aimed at clarifying the meaning of certain terms within the Code. While it may not have a significant impact on the day-to-day workings of the criminal justice system, it is an important piece of legislation that helps to ensure consistency and clarity in the application of Canadian criminal law.

STRATEGY

Section 785 of the Criminal Code of Canada defines a fundamental term for criminologists, lawyers, judges, and other stakeholders of the Canadian criminal justice system. It outlines the scope of the term "information," which includes counts in information and complaints authorized by an Act of Parliament or its enactment. Since court proceedings rely heavily on the definition of information, its understanding is crucial for legal practitioners' effective representation of their clients. Strategic considerations when dealing with this section of the Criminal Code of Canada include pleadings and evidence strategies, trial management, appellate advocacy, and legislative advocacy. Pleadings and evidence strategies are the first strategic considerations when dealing with Section 785. Legal practitioners must explore the information's nature, which informs the charges and evidence to present in a case. For example, if the information provides for multiple counts, the defense counsel may seek separate trials to minimize potential prejudice to the accused. In contrast, the prosecution may aim to keep all counts together to present a stronger case. Additionally, information authorized by an Act of Parliament may require specific elements of an offense, such as mens rea or actus reus, to be met, highlighting the importance of scrutinizing the information's wording and scope. Trial management constitutes another key strategic consideration when dealing with Section 785. For instance, both the prosecution and the defense may raise preliminary motions on the information's validity or clarity. Legal practitioners may aim to strike out the information if it fails to disclose essential elements of the offences or if it contains prejudicial statements that may influence the jury's decision. By raising these issues before trial, counsel can save time and resources for all parties involved in the trial while also setting the stage for a fair trial. Another strategic consideration when dealing with Section 785 is appellate advocacy. If an unfavorable verdict is passed, the defense counsel may seek appeals based on errors of law or factual errors. Section 785 may also affect the appeal process, especially if the information's wording or scope led to errors in the trial court. Therefore, appellate lawyers must scrutinize the information to determine if there were errors in the initial stages of the criminal case that led to an unfavorable verdict. Finally, Section 785 may also be considered when engaging in legislative advocacy. Members of Parliament and other legislative stakeholders must account for how the wording of information may influence the criminal justice system's outcomes. Policymakers must ensure that the information's scope and wording enable the court to deliver fair and just decisions while balancing the rights of the accused and the interests of the state. In conclusion, Section 785 of the Canadian Criminal Code is a crucial provision affecting several aspects of the criminal justice system. By being mindful of the strategic considerations outlined above, legal practitioners and other stakeholders can ensure that the information in criminal cases is correctly crafted and the judicial process adheres to principles of fairness and justice.