skip to Main Content

The Constitutional Protected Right to a Trial within a Reasonable Time

Under Canadian law, an accused person has a right to a trial within a reasonable time period. The obligation is on the part of the state to meet this obligation. The leading Canadian case law on this topic is referred to as the Jordan case.

The end goal of this constitutional right is to:

  • Serve the needs of the victim(s) and family, if any
  • Serve the needs of the witness(es), if any
  • Prevent unnecessary and avoidable delays in criminal proceedings
  • Maintain the administration of justice
  • Maintain the public’s confidence in the criminal justice system

The Supreme Court of Canada case Jordan, held that all participants in the justice system including defence counsel and the Crown attorneys must be proactive and work in concert to achieve speedier trials by preventing and minimizing delay. Every actor in the justice system has a responsibility to ensure that criminal proceedings are carried out in a manner that is consistent with an accused’s Charter protected right to a trial within a reasonable time.

What is the Reasonable Time Frame for a Fair Trial?

The presumptive ceiling is that of 18 months between the charges being laid and the trial in a provincial court without preliminary inquiry or 30 months in other cases.

The Shared Responsibilities of the Defence Counsel and Crown Attorneys

The Supreme Court of Canada has identified the responsibilities of the state actors in criminal proceedings. These shared obligations are as follows:

  • Making reasonable admissions
  • Anticipating issues that ought to be resolved in advance
  • Streamlining the evidence in a case
  • Using court time effectively and efficiently
  • Preventing proceedings from being derailed by relatively minor diversions
  • Seeking a stay of proceedings in appropriate circumstances

The Individual Responsibilities of Crown Attorneys

As articulated by the Supreme Court of Canada, responsibilities of Crown attorneys include but are not limited to:

  • Making reasonable and responsible decisions as to who to prosecute using public resources
  • Promptly delivering on disclosure obligations
  • Effectively devising plans for complex cases to minimize delay
  • Being proactive at all stages of a case
  • Seeking case management assistance where necessary
  • Seeking the assistance of defence counsel to streamline evidentiary issues
  • Effectively coordinating pre-trial issues
  • Acting in good faith at all times
  • Serving in the public interest and for no other improper purpose
  • Act in accordance with the Law Society of Ontario’s Code of Conduct

The Individual Responsibilities of Defence Counsel

  • Legitimately responding to charge(s)
  • Avoid causing unreasonable delay
  • Avoid intentionally causing delay
  • Refrain from making frivolous applications
  • Be diligent with the number, strength, importance and timeliness of defence applications
  • Conducting all applications reasonably and expeditiously
  • Complying with notice and filing requirements of the court
  • Avoid deliberation omissions and/or inactions
  • Actively advancing the accused’s right to a trial within a reasonable time
  • Putting the Crown on timely notice when delay is becoming an issue
  • Act in accordance with the Law Society of Ontario’s Code of Conduct

Looking into the Future

The Supreme Court of Canada has warned that the Jordan matter may have to be revisited with respect to the current presumptive ceiling of 18 months and the considerations that inform them in the future.

Is Jordan better for the accused than R. v. Askov?

In many jurisdictions, the accused would have greater success under the former prevailing case of Askov than now under Jordan.

Share This Post

Request Free Consultation
Free Criminal Charges Book

Free Criminal Charges Book

Fight The Charges! A Guide to Common Criminal Charges.

Get the Free Book

Free DUI Book

Free DUI Book

17 Secrets to Helping You Survive Your DUI Charge.

Get the Free Book

Free Bail Book

Free Bail Book

A Guide to Bail: Because There is No Get Out of Jail Free Card

Get the Free Book

Google Rating
Back To Top