Lesson 8: Supreme Court of BC

Topic 3: Criminal Cases

The following information is taken from www.SupremeCourtBC.ca, a website that introduces people to the Supreme Court of BC.

Supreme Court judges hear serious criminal matters such as contempt of court, murder, manslaughter, aggravated assault, bank robbery and major drug cases.

Once a person is charged with these crimes, the case will go to trial. Supreme Court trials are by judge and a twelve-person jury, unless the accused and Crown counsel agree to a trial by judge alone.

In most criminal cases, a preliminary inquiry is held in Provincial Court before the case is heard in Supreme Court. At this time, the accused does not have to present any evidence. The Crown must prove that there is enough evidence to commit the accused to trial in Supreme Court.

To come to a decision, the court considers the evidence presented in a case, along with statute law, the Rules of Court, regulations and case law. It is very important that judges and masters follow the law as set out in previously decided cases.

The standard of proof for a criminal case is ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’, which is the required threshold the prosecution must attain in order to achieve a conviction.