Judicial Referral Hearings – What Are They?Andrew Captan
The enactment of Bill C-75 introduced a new type of criminal court hearing that could lead to a significant reduction in the number of certain types of criminal charges entering in the court system.
Through the amendment to the Criminal Code of Canada, and in particular the addition of s. 523.1, the police or the Crown can decide to not proceed with formal criminal charges in certain circumstances, in exchange for having an accused’s release conditions reviewed by a Judge.
The hearings can be utilized where an individual is, or could have been, charged with an administration of justice offence, such as failing to comply with a bail condition or failing to attend court. Prior to s 523.1 being introduced, these types of offences had to be dealt with through the regular criminal court process, and often occupied court time in both guilty plea and trial court. Moreover, the Senate Committee conducted a study that found that despite a decrease in other more serious types of criminal charges over a specific period of time, administration of justice offences were on the rise.
How Do Judicial Referral Hearings Occur in Practice?
There are two ways in which a judicial referral hearing can arise. One is by way of the Police exercising their discretion to not charge an individual, formally, and instead refer the individual to a Judge for the hearing. This power arises by way of s. 496 of the Criminal Code.
Another route is if an individual has already been charged with an administration of justice offence, the Crown can seek a judicial referral hearing rather than proceeding with the substantive / underling offence, pursuant to s. 524 of the Criminal Code.
Effect(s) of the Hearing
One automatic effect is that if a Judge makes a decision at a hearing, the individual’s underlying substantive administration of justice offence must be withdrawn. t
Judicial Referral Hearing Lawyer
If you are required to appear in court for a judicial referral hearing, contact an experienced criminal lawyer for advice on your rights and options at the hearing – (647) 878 – 6355.