Criminal Law System

The Canadian legal system is a complex code that is largely based on the common law system of the United Kingdom, but it also is supremely controlled by the Constitution of Canada, and all acts passed by the legislature, if they are to become enforceable statute, must remain consistent with this Constitution. This supreme law, however, is much more complex than a single document ratified at once; the independent sections of the Constitution have been ratified separately over the years, and, unlike the American Constitution, the Canadian Constitution contains acts that have been passed by legislatures as simple statutes but that are later codified in the Constitution. Additionally, the Supreme Court of Canada has ruled that the Constitution also contains unwritten principles; these principles include federalism, democracy, constitutionalism, the rule of law, and respect for minorities.

The Constitution Act of 1847, one of the main acts in the statutory amalgamation of the Canadian Constitution, also enumerates the powers of the federal government and the provincial governments. The powers of the federal government include the enforcement of criminal law, immigration enforcement, the Criminal Lawyers Brampton regulation of banking, laws promoting peace and order in the country, and the regulation of trade and commerce in the provinces; the provincial governments control the areas of civil rights laws, hospital regulation and creation, municipal law, and government education. If a question regarding which entity has the Constitutional right to create a certain law arises, the Supreme Court of Canada will analyze the situation and make a final, indisputable decision on the matter.

The Canadian Parliament is the active federal lawmaking entity for the entire nation, and its power is divided into three branches; these three sections include the House of Commons, the Canadian Senate, and the monarch. The monarch’s role in the Parliament is passive and largely symbolic, and his or her main duty is to grant the Royal Assent; the Senate serves a similar function in the passing of the bill. The most important section of the Parliament is the House of Commons, and it contains 308 elected representatives that must be re elected on an annual basis; the House of Commons is responsible for drafting and ratifying any proposed legislative acts, while the Canadian Senate and monarch merely grant assent.

Though the power to create laws regarding criminal law enforcement lies with the Canadian Parliament, the provinces are each responsible for administrating provincial criminal courts, most of which operate on the basis of common law. These courts are separated into lower courts, appeals courts, and high courts and the lower courts are legally controlled by the precedent of the decisions of their respective higher courts. Despite this chain of legal authority, the precedent in the high courts of one province do not compulsively affect the decisions of any courts in other provinces; however, a ruling in the courts of one province is often cited as evidence in similar cases in all provinces. The Supreme Court of Canada is the only court in which its rulings act as compulsive precedent for all of the courts in the nation.


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