Sunday, February 18, 2018

Statistics Canada Article on Adult Criminal Court Processing Times

Last week, Statistics Canada published an article in Juristat on Adult criminal court processing times, Canada, 2015/2016.

It examines the time it takes for a charge to proceed through the adult criminal court system in Canada, from an individual's first court appearance to when a final decision is reached on the charge. The article looks at court processing time trends over the last decade and includes information on court processing times for provincial and superior adult criminal courts as well as jurisdictional trends. Some of the factors that can influence court processing times are also presented, as well as information related to the number and types of charges that have exceeded the presumptive limits established by the recent R. v. Jordan decision.

  • In 2015/2016, the majority of charges (over 1.1 million charges) completed in adult criminal courts in Canada were heard in provincial courts. The median amount of time it took to complete a charge in provincial court (from first appearance to final decision) was 112 days. This median did not vary much throughout the last ten years.
  • Of all charges completed in provincial court in 2015/2016, 6% took longer to process than the presumptive ceiling established by the R. v. Jordan Supreme Court of Canada decision (18 months when there was no preliminary inquiry, and 30 months when a preliminary inquiry was held). This proportion has remained consistent over the past decade. It is important to note that the Integrated Criminal Court Survey (ICCS) is unable to determine if the time exceeding the presumptive ceiling is attributable to the Crown or the defence.
  • Impaired driving offences accounted for 13% of all provincial court charges that exceeded the presumptive ceiling in 2015/2016. Offences against the administration of justice also accounted for a large number of these charges, such as failure to comply with a court order charges (8%).
  • Throughout the last ten years, the proportion of provincial court charges that exceeded the presumptive ceiling has remained fairly stable in most provinces and territories. However in Quebec, the proportion increased from 11% of charges in 2006/2007, to 17% of charges in 2015/2016. While in British Columbia, the proportion decreased over time (4% of charges in 2006/2007, compared with 2% of charges in 2015/2016).
  • According to the ICCS, there were 13,105 charges completed in superior court in 2015/2016, in provinces/territories where superior court data were available. These charges took a median of 419 days to reach a final decision in court, which was 18 days longer than 2014/2015.
  • The R. v. Jordan decision also established a specific presumptive ceiling for charges heard in superior courts – 30 months, with or without a preliminary inquiry. The available data from 2015/2016 indicate that 15% of all charges exceeded the presumptive ceiling. This proportion has generally been increasing since 2007/2008.
  • Weapons offences accounted for 12% of the superior court charges that exceeded the presumptive ceiling in 2015/2016, followed by major assault and sexual assault offences (both at 7%).
  • In addition to the seriousness of offences heard, certain factors can impact the time it takes to complete a charge in both provincial and superior court. For instance, an increasing number of court appearances, more days between appearances, if there are multiple accused or an increasing number of charges in the same case can increase the time it takes a charge to reach a final decision in court. Furthermore, charges with a preliminary inquiry or trial take longer to reach a final decision.
  • Charges that exceeded the presumptive ceiling in both provincial and superior court in 2015/2016 were generally more likely to result in a guilty decision.

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 3:50 pm


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