Most people want to avoid criminal activity. However, regardless of whether someone has committed an offense, they may face criminal charges. People may not be aware of the process that they will face when they are arrested and charged with the crime. These steps will give you an overview of what to expect when you are charged with a crime. The Alberta Crown Prosecution Service also offers a handbook. Hiring a criminal defense lawyer is the best way to proceed in your case. Every case is different and each case will be unique.


Arrest and Bail Hearing

An arrest is made when one of the following three conditions is present: A police officer observes someone committing a crime in motion, a reasonable and probable ground to believe someone is about to do so, or a warrant issued by a magistrate or judge identifying the charges against someone who is to be taken into custody. People who will be charged with an offense may be asked to surrender to a police station in certain circumstances.

A person arrested or surrendered to police will need to comply with certain procedural requirements, such as attending fingerprinting or photographing at the police station at a later time. Sometimes they can be kept in police custody while a hearing takes place or charges are resolved. However, in certain cases, the person may be released on bail after a bail hearing or "judicial intermediate release". The right to seek legal counsel regarding arrest or detention is available to anyone. It is recommended that they do this immediately.

You must show that you are not a danger to the public safety and that your court appearances will be attended. People may be kept in custody until they appear in court in certain circumstances. This is to preserve public confidence in the judiciary system. The judge or justice may place restrictions on your freedom, such as having you supervised or paying a fine. You will receive a document (an appeal notice, promise or recognizance), which will provide you with all the information you need to appear in court.

First Appearance, Election, and Pleas
First Appearance

After you are charged with an offense, you must appear in court. You should hire a lawyer if you haven't already. This will allow them to get familiar with your case. To obtain the investigation file detailing your charges and the evidence available, your lawyer can contact the prosecutor's offices.

Your first appearance will always be in a provincial court before a judge of the provincial court. Your scheduled time should be at least fifteen minutes before you arrive in the courtroom, according to your document. Law enforcement will bring you to court if you are not released on bail. You will be required to stand before the judge when the clerk calls your name. Sometimes, you will be charged with the offense.


The next step is to "elect" -- this means that if you are indicted for an offence, you can either have your trial or withdraw from it.

  • Or before a Provincial Court judge
  • Before a Queen's Court Justice


You don't have to plead guilty or guilty if you are not charged for an offense where you are expected make an election. This is something that should be decided by your legal counsel, who can evaluate the strength of your case. If the evidence against you is weak, there may be a way to negotiate or avoid being prosecuted. An experienced criminal defense lawyer can help you get the best outcome possible for your case. You can ask the judge to hold your plea until you meet with one. Then, another court date will be set. A trial will be set if you plead not guilty.

If you decide to plead guilty, the Crown prosecution will add the facts that support the plea into the record. Discuss with your lawyer what facts will be read when you plead guilty. This is because you must agree to all elements of the offense in order for you to plead guilty. Without first consulting a lawyer, you should not accept that you have committed the essential elements of an offence. You have the right to a trial if you disagree with the allegations against you.

If you plead guilty, the judge will hear your submissions about the sentence. Sometimes, the Crown and defense agree on the appropriate sentence. If they are not in agreement, they each explain their position to a judge who will make the final decision. Sometimes, the matter is remanded to gather more information that is relevant to sentencing. For example, a pre-sentence review which details your personal circumstances as well as your willingness to be monitored in the community. Sometimes, more detailed reports are required to examine the mental health of the accused so that the sentencing judge can fully understand his or her personal circumstances.

What is Alberta Crown Prosecution and how does it work?

The Crown has a lot of power. They are responsible to prosecute all offenses under the Criminal Code of Canada, and any related acts or statutes in Alberta. If it is probable that a person will face a conviction and the matter is in the public interest, they could also pursue prosecution under a provincial statute. They are responsible for the first appearance in court for bail hearings and handling appeals.

The Crown will decide what charges are appropriate for an offense and will present arguments for conviction or sentencing during trials. They will also prepare witnesses and cross-examine witnesses.

The Crown Prosecution's actions and decisions are governed by many important pieces of legislation.

  • The Criminal Code of Canada
  • Youth Criminal Justice Act
  • The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms
  • The Government of Alberta issues justice policies
  • The Alberta Law Society Code of Conduct

Going to Trial

Your counsel or you will be notified of when your trial has been set. This includes the location and time. You should be there at least 15 minutes before the trial with your criminal defense lawyer. This will notify the Crown prosecutor if you have been released on bail. Your lawyer may request full disclosure from the prosecutor's bureau prior to the trial to help prepare your defense. This includes any data, witness statements, evidence, or evidence that the Crown may have accumulated in relation to your case. While you can request disclosure and be represented yourself, a criminal defense lawyer will have more experience and knowledge to help you.

Remember that you are innocent unless proven guilty beyond reasonable doubt. It is the Crown that is responsible for proving you guilty. They will examine witnesses and present evidence, as well as cross-examine witnesses brought by the defense. Although the details of the actual court proceedings are too many to detail, they will present evidence and cross-examine witnesses your defense brings to trial. Next, the judge will request final arguments from your legal counsel and Crown to prove your guilt or innocence. The judge or jury will decide if you are guilty. If you are found guilty, your sentence will be sentencing. This can often take place at a later date. You will have the opportunity to present evidence or arguments to your counsel about what sentence you should get before sentencing. You can go if you are not found guilty.

A Criminal Defence Lawyer

Kolinsky Law is a trusted criminal defense lawyer that can help you protect your rights and ensure your safety from the beginning of your case through to trial. Based on the details of your case, we aim to get you the best results. It could be getting you justice without ever going to court. Or it could be presenting a compelling case that allows you to keep your freedom and negotiate pre-trial settlements. Kolinsky Law can help you build the strongest defense possible today.