BC Social Studies Lesson Plans

Rights of the Accused

Law 12


Rights of the Accused

Big Idea

Understanding legal rights and responsibilities allows citizens to participate more fully in society.

Essential Question

How are the rights of the accused upheld during trial procedures in accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?

Learning Standards Content

Students are expected to know the following:

  • Structures and powers of the federal and provincial courts and administrative tribunals
    • Rights of the accused

Curricular Competencies

Students are expected to be able to do the following:

  • Make reasoned ethical judgments about controversial decisions, legislation, or policy

Core Competencies

I can identify the legal rights in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and discuss their importance.

I can present examples of how Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms protects the rights of accused persons.

I can reflect on my own misconceptions and biases regarding the rights and treatment of accused persons in court.

First People's Principles of Learning

Learning requires patience and time.
  • Write the following statement on the board: “It is better that ten guilty persons escape than that one innocent suffer.”
  • Using the Barometer Strategy, label one side of the room “strongly agree” and the other “strongly disagree”. Have students stand anywhere between the two extremes, depending on how much they do or do not agree with the statement. Ask students to explain why they have chosen to stand where they are standing.
  • Guide students to consider the consequences of a criminal record and incarceration. Introduce the protections against wrongful conviction: proof beyond a reasonable doubt, onus on the crown to prove guilt, innocent until proven guilty, procedural protection, disclosure requirements, and the Charter.
  • Hand out the “Rights of the Accused: Misconception Check” worksheet. Students will read statements regarding legal rights and circle true or false under each statement. This is an individual and a silent activity.
  • After students are finished, discuss each statement one by one. Encourage students to think deeply and identify why they believe a certain statement to be true or false before revealing the correct answers using the “Answer Key with Elaborations”.
  • Provide students with the handout “Courtroom Participants”. Have students discuss the roles of each individual.
  • Introduce the essential question: “How are the rights of the accused upheld during trial procedures in accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?”
  • Explain that students will be making a concept map about the rights of the accused. Discuss the definition of a concept map before beginning. A concept map, or a mind map, is a way to visually represent concepts by breaking them down into specific topics and examples using circles, squares, connecting lines, arrows, etc. It is a way to structure knowledge by providing a method to understand connections and examples.
  • Provide students with the assignment “Rights of the Accused: Concept Map”. Students can work individually or in small groups. Their concept map will include the topic at the center, a legal right from the Charter, and an example (original student idea) of how this would be upheld during trial procedures.
  • Students start by identifying the main components on the concept map (different legal rights in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms). Then, students will use resources provided to come up with their own ideas of examples for each legal right.
  • As students work to identify examples, they should discuss relationships between different components.
  • After students are finished, allow time to compare, contrast, and discuss the different concept maps. Focus will be on the examples given for the different legal rights.
  • Remind students of the essential question, “How are the rights of the accused upheld during trial procedures in accordance with the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms?”. They will write a short paragraph responding in their own words.
  • Handout the assignment “Legal Rights: Expository Essay”.
  • Students will choose one of the legal rights from the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to investigate. Learning activities have focused on Section 10-14 which focus mainly on the rights of the accused during trial, but students may choose any of the legal rights from Section 7-14.
  • Students will write an expository essay on one of these legal rights. The essay will define the right and evaluate how it has been applied in Canada. Students will expand on that idea by discussing particular legal cases or controversies related to the legal right.
  • Assess essays using “Legal Rights: Expository Essay Rubric”.
  • Have students collaborate with a classmate to create a pamphlet that could be used for legal aid to inform the accused of their rights.
  • Have students rank the legal rights in the Charter from most to least important (in their opinion). Use these rankings as a basis for a class discussion.

British Columbia. 2019. “Your Rights - Information for Accused.” Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor Generalhttps://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/justice/criminal-justice/bcs-criminal-justice-system/if-you-are-accused-of-a-crime/your-rights

Canada. [n.d.] “Canada’s Criminal Justice System: Getting Fair Outcomes for Victims in Canada’s Criminal Justice System.” Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crimehttps://www.victimsfirst.gc.ca/res/pub/gfo-ore/CCJS.html

Canada. 2021. “Section 11 – General: legal rights apply to those "charged with an offence".” Department of Justice. https://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/csj-sjc/rfc-dlc/ccrf-ccdl/check/art11.html

Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime. 2021. “Rights.” Ottawa, ON. https://web.archive.org/web/20210704183311/https://crcvc.ca/for-victims/rights/https://web.archive.org/web/20210704183311/https://crcvc.ca/for-victims/rights/

Éducaloi. 2021. “Rights of a Person Accused of a Crime.” https://educaloi.qc.ca/en/capsules/rights-of-a-person-accused-of-a-crime/

“Legal Rights.” 2006. Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Fundamental Freedoms Project. http://charterofrights.ca/en/16_00_01

Murphy, Terry, et. al. All About Law: Exploring the Canadian Legal System, 6th ed., Nelson Canada, 2009.

Ontario Court of Justice. 2012. “Guide for Accused Persons in Criminal Trials.” Ontario Court of Justice. https://www.ontariocourts.ca/ocj/self-represented-parties/guide-for-accused-in-criminal-cases/guide/

People’s Law School. 2018. “Charter Rights: Overview.” Dial-A-Law. British Columbia. https://dialalaw.peopleslawschool.ca/charter-rights-overview

Purdue University. 2020. “Expository Essays.” Purdue Writing Labhttps://owl.purdue.edu/owl/general_writing/academic_writing/essay_writing/expository_essays.html#:~:text=The%20expository%20essay%20is%20a,a%20clear%20and%20concise%20manner

Roach, K. and M.L. Friedland. [n.d.] “The Right to a Fair Trial in Canada.” http://hrlibrary.umn.edu/fairtrial/wrft-kr.htm

Rosenberg, Marc, Hon. 2009. “Twenty-Five Years Later: The Impact of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms on the Criminal Law,” Ontario. Court of Appeal. https://web.archive.org/web/20121102095502/https://www.ontariocourts.ca/coa/en/ps/publications/twenty-five_years_later.htm

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Last Reviewed

March 01, 2023

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