JULY 8, 2016
CRIMINAL LAW – SUPREME COURT OF CANADA
ISSUE: Right to be tried within a reasonable delay (section 11b of the Charter) and the new framework established by the Supreme Court of Canada. Complete Decision.
HELD: The right to be tried within a reasonable time is central to the administration of Canada’s system of criminal justice.
As we have observed, a culture of complacency towards delay has emerged in the criminal justice system. This Court has a role to play in changing courtroom culture and facilitating a more efficient criminal justice system, thereby protecting the right to trial within a reasonable time.
At the heart of the new framework is a ceiling beyond which delay is presumptively unreasonable. The presumptive ceiling is set at 18 months for cases going to trial in the provincial court, and at 30 months for cases going to trial in the superior court (or cases going to trial in the provincial court after a preliminary inquiry). If the total delay from the charge to the actual or anticipated end of trial (minus defence delay) exceeds the ceiling, then the delay is presumptively unreasonable. To rebut this presumption, the Crown must establish the presence of exceptional circumstances. If it cannot, the delay is unreasonable and a stay of proceedings will follow.