a punishment for a crime
scheduled offences
offences contained in Schedule I or Schedule II of the Corrections and Conditional Release Act – Schedule I refers to certain offences under the Criminal Code prosecuted by way of indictment, Schedule II refers to offences under the Narcotic Control Act or the Food and Drugs Act prosecuted by way of indictment, a non-scheduled offence is an offence that is not contained in Schedule I or Schedule II of the CCRA
a process to look at the criminal history of an individual who is applying or requesting to be in a position of trust or authority over one or more children
search and seizure
a police practice whereby a home, person or other premises are searched and property is taken that may be useful in the investigation and prosecution of a crime
search warrant
prior approval secured from a justice of the peace or a judge for the police to search a specific location and take items that might be evidence of a crime
second-degree murder
a murder that is not planned and deliberate and did not involve the death of a police or correctional officer. The punishment for second degree murder is a mandatory life sentence with no eligibility for parole until serving 10 to 25 years (at the discretion of the judge), except for young offenders
secondary victimization
see “re-victimization
secure custody
the most serious disposition available in youth court, in which the youth is sent to a prison-like institution (‘a facility designated for the secure containment or restraint of young persons’) for a certain time period; compare with open custody
the right that exists to protect oneself, or members of one’s family from harm by another person. This defence holds that a person who is attacked or assaulted is not criminally responsible for using a reasonable or proportionate amount of force against the person assaulting them
giving testimony that may be used against you in another court case. The Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects witnesses from self-incrimination being used against them in another court case
self-report survey
a survey which asks average people about the crimes they have committed. The results of these surveys tend to show that most people break the law, and few of those who do are ever caught
the punishment given to a person who has been convicted or found guilty of a crime or the decision given by a judge as it relates to offenders who have been found unfit to stand trial or not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder
sentencing circle
an example of restorative justice in which the victim, the offender, criminal justice officials and community representatives all have input, and all have their needs considered when discussing the appropriate way to handle the case. This is an Aboriginal custom and is available for both Aboriginal Peoples as well as non-Aboriginal people.
sentencing disparity
when similar crimes committed by similar offenders result in different sentences
sentencing hearing
a hearing held after the accused has been found guilty of a crime. The judge can hear evidence to help decide on an appropriate punishment
the separation of the jury in a current criminal trial from the rest of the population
serial killer
individuals who murder at least three people (one at a time) over an extended period of time
serious personal injury offence
an indictable (serious) offence, other than first or second degree murder involving the use of violence against another person, or conduct endangering or likely to endanger the life or safety of another person, or inflicting (or likely to inflict) severe psychological damage upon another person, and for which the offender may be sentenced to imprisonment for ten years or more (all levels of sexual assault are also included)
sex offender registry
a computer database in which information on offenders previously convicted of sex offences is available to the police (it is up to the police whether or not to release that information to the public). If a registry is in place, convicted sex offenders are required to register with the police in that given community and to provide a current address
sexual assault (level 1)
when a person, without consent, applies force intentionally in circumstances of a sexual nature; the level of least physical injury to the victim
sexual assault (level 2)
assault of a sexual nature while carrying, using or threatening to use a weapon, while threatening to cause bodily harm to a person other than the victim, or while causing bodily harm to the victim. It is an assault which ‘interferes with the health or comfort of the person’
sexual assault (level 3)
aggravated sexual assault, which is an assault of a sexual nature which wounds, maims, disfigures or endangers the life of the victim
sexual exploitation
a person in a position of trust or authority who invites, incites, or coerces a young person (between 14 and 18 years old) to touch the body of any person for a sexual purpose, or the direct or indirect touching (with an object or a part of the body) of a young person (between 14 and 18) for a sexual purpose by a person who is in a position of trust/authority over the young person (see position of trust/authority for more information)
sexual interference
the direct or indirect touching (with an object or a part of the body) of a child under 14 years of age for a sexual purpose
sexual sadism
sexual enjoyment through the infliction of pain and/or humiliation on others
shaken baby syndrome
the resulting injuries that occur to an infant or young child after being shaken violently – injuries can include brain damage, spinal injuries, trauma, blindness, paralysis, seizures or even death
show cause hearing
see “bail hearing
The study of society, its structures, how it functions, and social problems within society
solemn affirmation
a promise to tell the truth; a witness in a trial can do this instead of taking an oath on the Bible if they are not religious
a member of the legal profession chiefly concerned with advising clients and preparing their cases
solitary confinement
the separation of a prisoner from the general prison population for punishment purposes, for their own protection or for the protection of others
specific deterrence
a principle of sentencing that acts to discourage future criminal acts by the specific individual being sentenced
see “criminal harassment
standard of proof
see “burden of proof
stare decisis
to stand by what was decided. The rule by which common-law courts tend to follow prior decisions or precedents
an act of the government declaring, commanding, or prohibiting something; a Bill, or particular law enacted and established by the government which has passed three readings in each parliamentary chamber (the House of Commons and Senate), or a provincial legislature, and received Royal Assent
statute of limitations
any law that fixes the time within which one must take legal action to enforce their rights or a limit on the time after a crime in which charges can be laid against the defendant – This does not exist on the most serious crimes like murder or sexual assault
statutory rape
a term commonly used to describe the offence of sexual relations with a minor (a person under eighteen years of age); consent or mistake of age is not a defence to such a charge if the victim is under 14 years of age, unless the accused is between the ages of 12 and 16, less than two years older than the victim, and not in a position of trust or authority
statutory release
a form of conditional release requiring most federal offenders to be automatically released after serving two-thirds of their sentence
stay of proceedings
a temporary or permanent stop to a legal proceeding until the occurrence of some event or a stoppage because the case is seen as insignificant and trivial in its present form
a document ordering the appearance of a person in court, usually as a witness
summary conviction offence
offences of a less serious nature which are tried by a judge alone without the presence of a jury; these offences are generally punishable by a fine of $2000 or less and/or imprisonment for six months or less; compare with indictable offence
summary trial
trials that do not involve juries and in which the charges and sentences are less serious; these cases are resolved in a provincial court and are resolved more quickly by the courts; in addition, summary conviction offences must be commenced within six months of the offence – if it takes longer a Crown attorney who wants to pursue the matter must proceed by indictment
concluding remarks made by the Crown attorney and defence counsel at the end of their case
a document given out by a justice of the peace to an accused that sets out the charge as well as the time and place at which the accused is to appear in court
summons to witness
see “subpoena
superior courts
this level of the courts is one step up from the provincial/territorial courts; they are often called the Supreme Court (British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Northwest Territories, Yukon, Nunavut) or Court of Queen’s Bench (Manitoba, New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, Alberta); or the Trial Division of the Supreme Court (PEI and Newfoundland); in Quebec it is called the Superior Court, while in Ontario it is the Ontario Court (General Division); these courts hear the most serious cases, such as murder and cases at this level may involve juries; these courts can also hear appeals from the decisions made at the provincial court level; see also provincial/territorial courts, provincial appellate courts, federal courts
supreme court of canada
located in Ottawa, this court of ‘last resort’ is the highest appellate court in Canada for both civil and criminal cases; it is an extremely important court because it interprets the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms so that the lower courts can apply those principles equally across the country; nine judges, as appointed by the prime minister, sit in the court
surete du Quebec (SQ)
the Quebec provincial police; enforces the Criminal Code and provincial statutes within areas of Quebec not served by a municipal police force (in some cases, there may be an overlapping of policing boundaries); also perform traffic duties on major provincial highways
a friend or relative of an accused who agrees to take responsibility for his or her appearance for trial and agrees to make sure the accused does not violate any release conditions pending trial
a person thought to have committed a crime
suspended sentence
when a judge convicts an accused but technically gives no sentence; the offender is actually put on probation, and if he or she conforms to all the conditions and does not commit a new offence, no sentence is ever given
system based services
services for victims that are meant as an ‘all-in-one’ centre where services and information about the criminal justice system, including access to both police and court-based victim services are available
task force on…
an investigative body established by the government to obtain information and make recommendations on policy matters
temporary absence
a form of conditional release granted so offenders may:

  • receive medical treatment;
  • make contact with their family;
  • undergo personal development and/or counselling; and
  • participate in community service work projects;
  • may also be granted for compassionate reasons (e.g. a funeral); see also escorted temporary absence and unescorted temporary absence
giving verbal or written evidence under oath
formal statements made for the purposes of establishing or proving facts
a harsh warning to a person that they will, or are going to, suffer loss, pain, punishment, or damage for doing or not doing something that is done with intimidation and is honestly perceived as a threat by the victim
any action (or lack of action) by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person
an official written copy of court proceedings
transfer hearing
a hearing held under the Youth Criminal Justice Act to determine whether an accused should be tried in adult court
transfer to adult court
under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, some youths who are 14 years of age or older when they commit a serious offence may be tried in adult court
the procedure by which an accused person’s guilt or innocence is determined. A trial takes place only if the accused pleads not guilty and does not change that plea and if the Crown does not withdraw the charges or terminate the matter with a stay of proceedings
to go to trial for committing an offence
trier of fact
see “fact finder
two year rule
refers to the federal-provincial split between sentences of two years or more and sentences less than two years; sentences of two years or more are served in federal penitentiaries and sentences of less than two years are served in provincial prisons