Department of Justice

Understanding the Court Process

Victim Services

Legal Roles

There are many different players in the criminal justice system.

Police

In the Yukon, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) are our police force. They enforce federal laws, including the Criminal Code of Canada.

Once a crime is reported, the police will investigate. If they determine an offence has occurred, they will charge the individual believed to be responsible. They will pull together all the evidence (into a “disclosure package”) and forward the package to the Crown Prosecutor.

Crown Prosecutor

The Crown Prosecutor works for the government. They look at whether or not there is enough evidence to find the accused guilty and if pursuing a case is in the public interest.

The Crown Prosecutor is not the victim’s lawyer. They work for the government in the public interest. They do not take instructions from the victim.

Defence Lawyer

The defence lawyer is the accused’s lawyer. The defence lawyer reviews the evidence and advises the accused to plead guilty or not guilty. Their job is to act in the best interest of the accused.

If the case goes to trial, the defence lawyer focuses on defending the accused. During sentencing, they focus on getting the best possible sentence for the accused.

Judiciary (Judges)

A judge determines what happened at a trial by Judge, based on all of the evidence presented and the credibility of witnesses.

Then the Judge determines what the law is in relation to the charges, and applies the law to their findings of what happened.

If it is a trial by jury, the Supreme Court Judge summarizes the evidence for the jury and explains how the law applies to the charges before the Court. The jury then applies the law to the facts, with the assistance of the Supreme Court Judge.

Jury

Jury trials only occur occasionally in the Supreme Court. A jury has 12 people, generally from the community where the trial is held. The jury is selected before the trial begins.

Bail Supervisors

An offender released on bail conditions, will receive a “Recognizance”. They will be supervised by a Bail Supervisor, who is usually also a Probation Officer. The offender is normally released on bail conditions shortly after being charged with an offence.

Probation Officer

Offenders sentenced to probation will receive a Probation Order. They will be released in the community and supervised by a Probation Officer who will make sure the offender complies with the Probation conditions.

If the offender does not comply with the terms of the Probation Order, the Probation Officer may charge the offender with breaching the conditions.

The Probation Officer also offers support and help to the offender. The offender may be referred to community-based programs and counselling, or get assistance with getting a job or doing community service hours.

Parole Board

Parole allows an offender serving a prison term of more than two years (in a Federal facility) to return to the community after one-third of the sentence has been served. In order to get parole, offenders must apply to the Parole Board of Canada.

On release, the offender will be supervised in the community by a Parole Officer.

Aboriginal Court Workers

Aboriginal Court Workers ensure that Aboriginal people charged with an offence receive assistance throughout the Court process.

Aboriginal Court Workers also provide referrals to legal, community justice and social programs. The facilitate communication between the accused and criminal justice officials.

Crown Witness Coordinators

Crown Witness Coordinators are focused on providing support and information to victims and witnesses who need to testify in Court. They work for the federal government.

Crown Witness Coordinators also support and accompany victims and witnesses during the Court process and, in some cases, refer victims to appropriate support and counselling services. They can provide an orientation to the court room and supply details on dates and the progress of trials.

Youth Justice

In the Yukon, Youth Justice falls under the umbrella of the Health and Social Services, (Family and Children’s Services Branch). Visit Youth Justice for more information.

Victim Service Workers

Victim Service Workers support victims throughout the court process. They:

  • Provide information about the court process and criminal justice system.
  • Advocate for the victim’s safety.
  • Help prepare the victim to participate and testify in Court.
  • Let the victim know about the status of the case.
  • Refer the victim to counselling and other support services.
  • Help the victim prepare a Victim Impact Statement.