What is Crime in Canada?
This information is mainly about adults (people over age 18) who are involved in criminal cases. For information about youth (children between 12 and 17 years) involved in criminal cases, click here.
A crime is an act that breaks one of Canada’s criminal laws. A crime is sometimes called “an offence”. For example, if someone robs a bank, they have committed the crime of robbery, which is an offence under the Criminal Code of Canada. The police will investigate the crime. They will talk to people who witnessed the crime and inspect the place where the crime happened.
The police decide if they have enough evidence for someone to be charged with the crime of robbery. The police do not actually charge anyone. The police give their information and evidence to a Crown prosecutor, who will review the evidence and decide if that person should be charged with the crime. The Crown prosecutor, not the police, charge the person with the crime.
Crown prosecutors are government lawyers who act for the public. This means they act for the good of society, not for the good of one person.
Someone who is charged with a crime is called “the accused.” The accused is presumed to be innocent until he or she is proven guilty in a trial. At the trial, the accused must be proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.