Criminal Law – Preliminary Hearings
A preliminary hearing in Ontario determines whether there is strong evidence to send the case for trial. If the judge decides a jury could convict after considering all evidence, they will find the person “guilty”. Preliminary hearings are held at the Ontario Court of Justice. A preliminary hearing is a formal court proceeding to see whether or not there is reasonable evidence for the case. Offenses requiring preliminary hearings are usually serious and carry a long sentence.
Process of The Hearing
A preliminary hearing is similar to a pre-trial hearing but much shorter. The accused generally does not present any evidence at this hearing. It is the Crown’s job to show there is enough evidence to move forward with a trial. Criminal defense lawyers have the opportunity to explore their case and prepare for the upcoming trial.
After the accused and the Crown make closing statements about whether or not a trial should be had (or if the accused concedes committal to trial), the judge would decide whether there is enough evidence and if the accused has been “committed to stand trial.”
Should You Accept Your Right to a Preliminary Hearing?
A preliminary hearing can be beneficial in cases where you wish to hear the Crown’s case and evidence against you. You may need evidence from Crown witnesses who are unlikely/unable to come to trial at a later date. It could help in the negotiations for the resolution of the case.
On the other hand, you may not want a hearing if it may significantly delay your trial. If you decide to have a hearing, you would need an election form of which court and what issues.
If you would like legal advice on whether to go through the preliminary hearing, talk with one of our criminal lawyers. You can reach our office at 905-366-0202 or contact us through our website here.