In Canada, when an individual is accused of certain crimes, they have the right to decide between being tried solely by a judge or by a judge and jury. While this seems like a minor legal decision, it can actually have a major impact on the outcome of your case. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at the different modes of trial and discuss the pros and cons of each so that you can make an informed decision about which one is right for you. Of course, this is a decision that is best made with the guidance of an expert criminal defence lawyer, but this information provides you with a starting point.
Choosing a Mode of Trial in Canada
First, it’s important to note when an individual can choose between these options or when a judge alone will try the case.
Here’s how the Government of Canada explains the different mode of trial options:
“Most civil cases in Canada are tried by judges without a jury. However, anyone charged with a criminal offence for which there can be a prison sentence of five years or more has the right to a trial by jury. In some cases, a person charged with a criminal offence for which there can be a prison sentence of less than five years may have the right to choose a trial by jury.
Some civil cases can also be tried by judge and jury.”
Trial by Judge Alone
In a trial by judge alone, the accused is tried in front of a single judge. This means there is no jury present to deliberate on the evidence and reach a verdict. One of the advantages of this type of trial is that it can lead to a quicker resolution since there is only one person who needs to hear all of the evidence and reach a decision. Additionally, trials by judge alone tend to be less expensive than jury trials since there is only one person who needs to be paid for their time.
However, there are also some drawbacks to trial by judge alone. One is if there’s an emotional component to the case, it can be more challenging for a single judge to understand and empathize with what the accused is going through. Additionally, some people feel they have a better chance of receiving a fair trial when a jury is involved since they feel their peers are more likely to relate to them and understand their situation.
Trial by Jury
In a criminal trial by jury, the accused is tried in front of a panel of 12 jurors. Once all of the evidence in the case has been presented, the jurors will deliberate and reach a verdict. In the event the accused is found guilty, they will be sentenced by the judge. One of the benefits of this type of trial is that it provides increased accountability for the prosecution since their actions are being scrutinized by 12 people instead of just one. Additionally, having a jury present provides an extra layer of protection for the accused since it can help ensure all sides are being heard fairly and the evidence is being interpreted impartially.
However, there are also some drawbacks to trial by jury. One is that criminal jury trials tend to be more expensive than trials by judge alone since you need to pay 12 people for their time instead of just one. Additionally, jury trials can take longer since all 12 jurors need to hear all the evidence before reaching a verdict.
Note, in civil cases, there are only six jurors, and only five need to agree on the verdict, rather than it being unanimous, as is the case in criminal cases.
Trial by Judge and Jury
As we explained, there are also some cases where an individual can choose to have their case tried by both a judge and jury. This type of trial is less common, but it does offer some advantages over other types of trials. One advantage is that it provides the accused with the best of both worlds – they have the protection of a jury, but they also have the benefit of having a judge who can provide expert legal guidance. Additionally, this type of trial can help ensure all sides are heard fairly and that the evidence is interpreted impartially.
Choosing a Mode of Trial in Canada
So, which mode of trial is right for you? Ultimately, this is a decision you should make with the help of an experienced criminal defence lawyer. They will be able to assess your criminal case and provide you with guidance on which option is likely to lead to the best outcome for you.
However, there are certain questions to ask yourself in the meantime that could help you to make a decision.
For example, do you feel more comfortable with the idea of having your peers deliberate on your case, or would you prefer to have a single judge hear all of the evidence? Additionally, are you more concerned about the cost of your trial or the length of time it will take?
Once you’ve considered these factors, you’ll be in a better position to decide which mode of trial is suitable for you.
Visit this article next to learn more about Canadian criminal trials.
FAQs About Mode of Trial in Canada
Now that we’ve gone over the basics of mode of trial in Canada, let’s answer some frequently asked questions on the topic.
What are some factors to consider when choosing a mode of trial?
Some factors to consider when choosing a mode of trial include the severity of an offence, the amount of evidence, the complexity of the case, and the accused’s preference.
What is the difference between a judge and jury trial?
A judge trial is where the case is heard by a judge alone, while a jury trial is where the case is heard by a panel of 12 jurors. In civil cases, there are six jurors and only five must agree on a verdict.
Making the decision about whether to have your case tried by a judge or jury is an important one. There are pros and cons to both mode of trial options; ultimately, it comes down to what you feel comfortable with. If you have any questions or concerns about which mode of trial would be right for you, contact KIVLaw for help. We’re here for you throughout every part of your journey in the Canadian criminal justice system.