Glossary Terms

Learn about the terms and definitions used in the Canadian criminal justice system with our comprehensive glossary.




Abduction occurs when a parent or guardian unlawfully takes a child under 14 years of age out of someone else's lawful possession.


Act (Statute) is a law passed by Parliament (federal) or a provincial legislature. A federal Act must pass three readings in both the House of Commons and Senate.

Actus reus

Latin for "guilty act" and one of the two elements of a crime the Crown must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to win a conviction.

Age of majority

The minimum age at which a person legally considered to be an adult and can buy alcohol. It is 18 in some provinces/territories and 19 in others.

Aggravated sexual assault

The charge is laid if someone is wounded, maimed, disfigured or feels their life was endangered during a sexual assault.

Aggravating factors

Any information or evidence that may increase the crime's severity, resulting in a heavier sentence.


Any beverage containing 1.1 percent or more alcohol by volume.


Amphetamines are stimulant drugs that speed up the central nervous system. Common street names for them are speed, bennies, glass, crystal, crank, pep pills and uppers.

Anti-terrorism Act

Federal law that came in effect in December 2001 that created measures to take enforcement action against those responsible for terrorist activities, along with providing new investigative tools.


The process where a higher court reconsiders a judgment or sentence given by a lower court.


The party seeking consideration from a court of appeal.

Arena for animal fighting

Any facility where fights between animals are staged.


A hearing where the accused pleads guilty or not guilty to the offence they are facing.


A person commits assault when, without consent, they apply force intentionally to another person or just threaten such an action. A person can also face this charge if they openly wear or carry a weapon/imitation weapon.

Assault with a weapon

An assault were a person uses, or threatens to use a weapon or an imitation thereof, during the attack.

Attempted murder

This charge is laid if someone attempts by any means to commit murder.

Authorization to Carry

A permit issued by the federal government under the Firearms Act that allows a person to lawfully possess a restricted or prohibited firearm that is loaded or with readily accessible ammunition.

Automatic firearm

A weapon capable of discharging bullets in rapid succession with one pull of the trigger.



Bad faith

When a foreign national enter into a marriage, common-law partnership or conjugal partnership for the primary purpose of immigrating to Canada.


Drugs that slow down brain activity, often used as sedatives and tranquilizers.


The amount risked in a wager on any sporting event or game of chance that takes place in or out of Canada.


A small, square piece of absorbent paper usually containing one hit of LSD that is chewed or swallowed. They are sometimes printed with illustrations of cartoon characters.


A firm of no more than 20 lawyers offering legal services in a select or niche practice.


Offering a police officer or other justice official a payment or gift for illegal purposes. They can be charged with bribery if they accept the offer.

Browne and Dunn rule

Also known as the confrontation rule, this centuries' old rule states that where a lawyer is advancing a theory that contradicts the evidence of the witness being questioned, they should direct the attention of the witness to contradictory evidence.



Canadian Bar Association

The leading professional association for lawyers, judges, notaries, law teachers and law students in Canada.

Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

Part of the Canadian Constitution, the Charter sets out the rights and freedoms that all Canadians can enjoy and that are protected by the courts.

Canadian Firearms Program

The program that oversees the licensing and registration of firearms and that maintains national firearm safety training standards.

Canadian Firearms Safety Course

A course providing beginner level knowledge on the responsibilities of possessing and using non-restricted firearms. Anyone applying for a Possession and Acquisition Licence must first complete this course.

Canadian Police Information Centre

Managed by the RCMP, this centre is the only national information-sharing system that links criminal justice and law enforcement partners across Canada and internationally.


The Canadian Legal Information Institute (CanLII) is a free database of legal decisions from various courts and tribunals across the country.


A product of plants belonging to genus Cannabis. The end product comes in many forms, including dried flowers and leaves, hash, extracts, oils and edibles.

Cannabis accessory

Anything used in the consumption of cannabis including rolling papers, holders, pipes, water pipes, bongs and vaporizers.

Careless driving

Operating a conveyance (a motor vehicle, vessel, aircraft or railway equipment) without due care and attention or reasonable consideration for others.

Causing a disturbance

Disorderly conduct in a public place that can include fighting, swearing, being drunk or impeding others.

Child pornography

Visual, written or recorded material that shows or depicts someone under 18 engaged in sexual activity or shows their genitals. It can also be material or audio recordings that encourages or depicts sexual activity with those under 18.

Civil aircraft

All aircraft other than those operated by the Canadian Forces, police forces or people engaged in the enforcement of the Customs Act, the Excise Act or the Excise Act, 2001.

Civil aviation

Flights other than those operated by the Canadian Forces, police forces or people engaged in the enforcement of the Customs Act, the Excise Act or the Excise Act, 2001.

Colour of right

A defence to certain charges, it is the honest belief that an act is justifiable. In cases of theft, it refers to an honest belief or mistake regarding the ownership of property.

Commission of offence

It means being party to an offence or failing to act when the person clearly should have known the act or omission was illegal.

Common betting house

A place that enables people to bet between themselves or with the keeper, or a place that receives, registers or pays bets.

Common gaming house

A place where betting games are played and where a portion of the bets are paid to the keeper of the place. Fees may be charged to players and the chances of winning are not equally favourable to all persons who play the game.

Common law

The common law is law that not written down as legislation but instead evolves from past judicial decisions. It adapts to changing circumstances because judges can announce new legal doctrines or change old ones.


Common law is a system of precedent-based rules not written down as legislation that guides judges in making later decisions in similar cases.

Concealed weapon

A concealed weapon is any object that can be used to cause harm to others that is hidden from view.


The voluntary agreement of the complainant to engage in the sexual activity in question.


Money, drugs, alcohol or any other form of payment in exchange for sexual services.

Controlled Drugs and Substances Act

The Controlled Drugs and Substances Act sets the rules about unlawful drugs in Canada and defines "schedules" or categories based on their perceived personal and public safety dangers. It also set out the punishment for individuals who engage in the possession, trafficking, and production of those drugs.

Controlled substance

Any type of drug that the federal government has categorized as having a higher-than-average potential for abuse or addiction. Its manufacture, possession or use is regulated by the government through the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.


A motor vehicle, a vessel, an aircraft or railway equipment that transports people or material.

Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act

Passed in 1998, the Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act makes it a crime to bribe a foreign official.

Counterfeit mark

A label, sticker, emblem or other symbol that is identical with or substantially indistinguishable from a genuine mark or designation and is often used to falsely show that a product has met a certain standard.


Creating, passing and/or possessing counterfeit banknotes or coins as if they were genuine

Criminal Code

The Criminal Code is a federal statute that defines and sets out punishments for most of the criminal offences that the Parliament of Canada has enacted.

Criminal harassment

It is conduct that is psychologically harmful to others, including stalking. It causes people to reasonably fear for their safety and may be a precursor to subsequent violent and/or lethal acts.

Criminal rate

An effective annual rate of interest calculated in accordance with generally accepted actuarial practices and principles that exceeds 60 percent on the credit advanced.


Interrogation of a witness called by the opposing side about testimony already given, often done in order to raise doubts about the witness's testimony, knowledge or credibility.

Crown prosecutor

Lawyers who act for the federal, provincial and territorial governments and prosecute people accused of crimes on behalf of the Crown.

Culpable homicide

Murder, manslaughter or infanticide where the death was caused by an intentional act or criminal negligence.


The use of online technologies to harass and intimidate others. Although not officially in the Code, some cyberbullying actions may constitute criminal harassment, uttering threats or intimidation.



Dangerous driving

Operating a conveyance – such as an automobile, boat or train – in a manner that endangers the public.

Dangerous offender

A person may be found to be a dangerous offender if they are convicted of a serious personal injury offence and the court considered them a threat to the life, safety or physical or mental well-being of others. They can also be designated as such if they show they cannot restrain their behaviour or are indifferent to the foreseeable consequences other people will suffer due to their actions. If the court finds an offender to be a dangerous offender, it will impose a sentence of detention in a penitentiary for an indeterminate period.


The act of eliminating waste materials from the digestive tract. If that is done in a public place a person may be charged for committing an indecent act.

Defence attorney

A criminal defence lawyer protects the rights of defendants and helps them build a defence that aims to have them acquitted. They ensure the accused's rights are protected throughout the judicial process.

Defence lawyer

A criminal defence lawyer protects the rights of defendants and helps them build a defence that aims to have them acquitted. They ensure the accused's rights are protected throughout the judicial process.

Demerit points

Demerit points are given to drivers if they are convicted of breaking the law while driving. Once they reach a certain level, drivers can temporarily lose their driver’s licence.


An accused person has the right to the disclosure of all relevant information  in the possession of the Crown, with the exception of privileged information. This typically occurs before the accused has to decide whether to enter a plea of either guilty or not guilty.

Disorderly house

A disorderly house is a common betting or gaming house.

Doctor shopping

Doctor shopping, also known as double doctoring, involves obtaining controlled substances from multiple health-care practitioners without the prescriber’s knowledge of other prescriptions.

Domestic violence

Violence within the home involving the abuse of a spouse or partner. Domestic violence can include assault, sexual assault, kidnapping and homicide.

DRE evaluation

The Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) is a 12-step procedure police use to evaluate those suspected of impairment. If the DRE determines that the person is impaired, the DRE will indicate what category or categories of drugs may have contributed to that impairment. 

Dried cannabis

Any part of a cannabis plant that has been subjected to a drying process, other than seeds.

Driving while disqualified

Operating a vehicle while prohibited by court order to do so.

Duty counsel

They are lawyers who assist self-represented litigants by offering limited legal advice. They can give advice about the accused's legal rights, obligations and the court process. They can also help with asking for an adjournment, conducting a bail hearing, entering a guilty plea or making submissions at a sentencing hearing.




Commonly known as Molly, it is a synthetic drug known primarily for its hallucinogenic and stimulant effects. It can impart feelings of increased energy, pleasure, emotional warmth, and distorted sensory and time perception. 

Elder abuse

There is no specific charge in the Criminal Code but offences could include physical, sexual, financial and emotional abuse. Elder abuse can happen in a relationship of trust or with any general mistreatment of those 65 and older.

Elements of the offence

To win a conviction, the Crown must prove two elements: that there was prohibited conduct (actus rea) and that the accused was aware they were acting illegally (mens rea).


An interest or right to a property by someone who is not the homeowner. This will adversely affects a real property's use and value.


Evidence, which can include testimony, documents, expert statements or photographs, can be introduced by either side to support that a position is either true or not true. Any evidence introduced must be relevant to the case at hand.

Exchequer bill paper

The paper used to print government-issued currency. People who fraudulently make their own currency can be charged with forgery.


To eject from the throat or lungs by coughing, hawking or spitting. Though not usually consider a federal crime, expectoration during a pandemic may be considered a form of assault.

Expert witness

Someone with special knowledge about an element of the crime who can assist the court through the provision of an independent and unbiased opinion.


The act of using violence, threats, intimidation or pressure to force someone to hand over money or something else of value, without any legal excuse or justification.

Extrajudicial measures

Proceedings outside the formal court process. Examples include police warnings, referrals to community programs and Crown cautions. Extrajudicial measures are seen as an effective response to less serious youth crime.

Extrajudicial sanction

A more formal option for dealing with youths accused of a crime as an alternative to going to court.



Fabricating evidence

The act of introducing false information into judicial proceeding with the intent to mislead.

Facilitating terrorist activity

The act of participating, faciitating or instructing a terrorist act, or to harbour those engaged in such an activity. It does not matter if any terrorist activity was actually carried out.


The facilitation an offence does not require knowledge of a particular offence, or that it was actually committed.

Failure to comply with a probation order

Disobeying or ignoring conditions set out in a court order without reasonable excuse.

Financing of Terrorism

Directly or indirectly providing or collecting property or money that is intended to be used in a terrorist act.


Barrelled weapon from which a projectile can be discharged and that is capable of causing bodily injury or death to a person.

Firearms Act

The Firearms Act is legislation governing various aspects of gun ownership in Canada, including their sale, storage and use. It lays out prohibitions and restrictions on various types of firearms and outlines the requirements for the licensing and registration of firearms in Canada. 

First appearance

A procedural step to determine how the accused wants to proceed with the case. The purpose of a first appearance is for the court to get information and for the accused to think about what they want to do, such as plead guilty or not guilty.

Fixed platform

An artificial island or a marine structure permanently attached to the seabed for the purpose of exploration of resources or for other economic purposes. People can be charged with seizing or exercising control over a fixed platform.


Flunitrazepam is a benzodiazepine, or central nervous system depressants sometimes referred to as date rape drugs. There are 34 benzodiazepines listed in Schedule IV of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Forcible confinement

Unjustly holding anyone against their will through the use of threats, duress, force or the exhibition of force.

Foreign public official

Can include a person who holds a legislative, administrative or judicial position of a foreign jurisdiction. The Corruption of Foreign Public Officials Act makes is a crime to bribe them.


Every jury member picks a foreperson, who records the verdict on a verdict sheet and notifies the court services officer. Once back in court, the foreperson stands to announce the verdict to the court.


The act of producing a copy of a document, signature, banknote, or other item for financial or legal gain. It also includes altering a genuine document in any way, such as changing a date or adding a seal.

Fresh evidence

Any evidence not introduced in the original proceeding.

Full service

A full service law firm is one that has lawyers on staff or on contract who practise a variety of specialties that together should be able to adequately serve all of the core legal needs of a particular type of client. These firms usually may have multiple locations across the country.




Game of chance or a mixture of chance and skill are considered illegal lotteries unless no consideration is paid to enter, play or win a prize.




Out-of-court statements that can’t be proven because the statements were not taken under oath so there is no opportunity to cross-examine the declarant. Hearsay evidence is presumptively inadmissible as it may be afforded more weight than it deserves.

Hit and Run

It is defined in the Criminal Code as failure to stop at scene of accident, and applies to any automobile, vessel or aircraft that is involved in an accident with a person or a conveyance or any type.


When a person causes the death of another or intentionally inflicts bodily harm they know is likely to cause death and they are not acting in the course of self-defence.

Hung jury

When a jury is unable to reach a unanimous verdict in a criminal case. The judge may send the jury back for more consideration, but if a unanimous verdict cannot be reached, a mistrial will be declared and the case may be retried before a new jury.

Hybrid offence

Hybrid offences fall between a summary and an indictable offence. The Crown prosecutor chooses whether to treat the offence as a summary or indictable offence.



Identity fraud

Using someone’s identity information to commit fraud or theft or to deceive or defraud a third person. Most identity fraud is committed to gain financial advantages, such as accessing a victim's credit card, bank accounts, or loan accounts.

Identity theft

Obtaining or possessing someone else’s identity information with the intention to use it to commit an indictable offence that includes fraud, deceit or falsehood as an element of the offence.

Illegal dumping

The disposal of unwanted items generated at one location and disposed of at another location without legal permission, usually done to avoid paying disposal fees.

Illicit cannabis

Cannabis sold, produced or distributed by a person prohibited from doing so under the Cannabis Act.

Immigration marriage fraud

A sham marriage entered into for the purpose of gaining immigration status to Canada.

Impact statements

A written statement from a victim describing the physical or emotional harm, property damage or economic loss caused by an offence has suffered. These statements gives victims of crime a voice in the criminal justice system, as the Court must take these statements into account when an offender is sentenced.

Impaired boating

Operating a vessel under the influence of drugs, alcohol or both. The same laws about impairment apply to people driving a boat as those driving an automobile.


Being impaired means that the driver’s ability to operate a motor vehicle was altered due to alcohol or drug consumption. Having the prohibited level of alcohol, THC, or other impairing drugs in your blood within two hours of driving is an offence.

In flight

An aircraft is deemed to be in flight from the time all external doors are closed following embarkation until the time at which any external door is opened for the purpose of deplaning.

Indecent exposure

Revealing your genitals to someone under 16 for a sexual purpose.

Indictable offence

Indictable offences are the most serious offences under the Criminal Code and they come with more serious punishments, up to a maximum penalty of life in prison.

Initial consultation

The first meeting between a lawyer and client to discuss the case in general terms. It gives clients a chance to decide whether they can establish a working relationship with that lawyer.

Insider trading

The buying or selling of a publicly traded company's stock by someone who has non-public, material information about that stock.


The aggregate of all charges and expenses – whether in the form of a fee, fine, penalty, commission or other similar charge or expense – paid or payable for the advancing of credit under an agreement or arrangement.

Invitation to sexual touching

Inviting, counselling or inciting someone under 16 years of age to touch someone else's body of any person for a sexual purpose, directly or indirectly, with a part of the body or with an object.



Joint submission

When both the Crown and the offender agree on the sentence they are seeking.


An appointed public official vested with the authority to hear, determine and preside over legal matters brought in a court of law.

Judicial interim release

Commonly referred to as bail, it is a judicial order that releases the accused from custody prior to trial. The release is unconditional unless the prosecutor shows cause to impose certain conditions.

Judicial stay

A stay directed by the trial judge that is permanent.


Canadian citizens over the age of 18 called to hear evidence and render a verdict or recommendation in a coroner’s inquest or a civil or criminal trial.

Jury charge

A guideline given by the judge to the jury about the law they will have to apply to the facts they have found to be true. The purpose of the instructions is to help the jury arrive at a verdict that follows the law of that jurisdiction.




The owner, occupier or manager of a place where betting occurs. It can also include anyone who assists or acts on behalf of an owner or occupier of a place, and those who appear to be acting on behalf of an owner or occupier of a place.


A synthetic substance used commonly at clubs and raves for its hallucinogenic effects.


The unlawful restraint. confinement or imprisonment of a person against their will. It also includes transporting them against their will or holding them for ransom.



Law Society

A provincial or territorial organization that ensures that lawyers meet high standards of learning, competence and professional conduct.

Leading question

A question that prompts or encourages the desired answer. They are allowed in cross-examination but not in examination-in-chief.

Leave to appeal

Permission to take the appeal to a higher court.

Legal defence

A strategic argument mounted by a defence lawyer that attempts to challenge the validity and sufficiency of the prosecution's evidence.

Licensed retailer

Those authorized by the federal government to sell medical marijuana.

Loan sharking

Lending money at an interest rate above 60 percent. Sometimes threats of harm or extortion are used to get repayment.


Lingering aimlessly in a public place and obstructing persons who are lawfully there.


Lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) is a hallucinogen known colloquially as acid. Its effects typically include intensified thoughts, emotions and sensory perception



Mail theft

Taking mail before it is in the possession of the person it was intended for. It is considered a crime of opportunity that can be committed in a very short time frame with little to no risk of getting caught.


Injecting a substance directly into the bloodstream through a vein, which leads to an instant high but it is also the riskiest method to consume drugs in terms of overdosing.

Mandatory minimums

Legislated sentencing floors where the minimum punishment is predetermined by law. 

November 17, 2022
Update: Bill C-5: *Many Mandatory Minimum Penalties Repealed.


Also known as ecstasy or Molly, it is a psychoactive synthetic drug used largely for recreational purposes. It alters mood and perception, producing feelings of increased energy, pleasure and emotional warmth.

Medical marijuana

A term for derivatives of the Cannabis plant that are used to ease symptoms caused by certain medical conditions. People  need a prescription from a doctor to obtain it.

Mens rea

Mens rea refers to having criminal intent, knowledge, or recklessness since the person is aware of their misconduct. The literal translation from Latin is "guilty mind." The Crown needs to show that the accused had mens rea to win a conviction. 


LSD is initially produced in crystalline form, which can then be used to produce tablets known as microdots, or thin squares of gelatin called window panes.

Mitigating factors

Any information or evidence that may lessen the crime's severity, resulting in a lighter sentence.

Mixed martial arts

A sport combining the fighting techniques of wrestling, boxing, kickboxing, judo and karate.

Money laundering

The process of concealing the origins of money obtained illegally by passing it through a complex sequence of banking or commercial transactions.

Mortgage fraud

It occurs when someone misrepresents, lies or exaggerates information to obtain a mortgage that would not have been granted if the truth had been told.




One billionth of a gram. Anyone that has more than two nanograms of THC per millilitre of blood can faces charges in Canada.

National DNA Data Bank

The National DNA Data Bank maintains a collection of more than half a million DNA profiles of criminal offenders. Maintained by the RCMP it links crime when there are no suspects and can determine if a serial offender is involved in an offence.


The period from 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. the next morning.

Non-restricted firearms

This class includes any rifle or shotgun that is neither restricted nor prohibited. Most common long guns (rifles and shotguns) are non-restricted, but there are exceptions.


Exposing yourself in a manner that offends public decency or order.



Obscene material

Any image or publication that features an undue exploitation of sex or any one or more of the following subjects: crime, horror, cruelty and violence.


The state or quality of being obscene, characterized as an undue exploitation of sex or any one or more of the following subjects: crime, horror, cruelty and violence.


An offence is a crime that breaks a particular law and requires a particular punishment, as dictated by the Criminal Code or other acts.

Open container

Any alcohol where the seal has been broken. It is illegal to possess alcohol in an open container if you are in a private vehicle or a private boat.


Narcotic drug prepared from the dried latex of unripe pods of the opium poppy, containing alkaloids such as morphine, codeine and papaverine.

Oral evidence

Testimony given in court by witnesses or the accused. Information that they swear is true. Oral evidence includes evidence that, by reason of any disability, disorder, or other impairment, a person called as a witness gives in writing or by signs or by way of any device.

Oral fluid sample

Oral fluid is a mixture of saliva and other materials found in the mouth that law enforcement officers check for indications of drug imprairment.

Organized crime

The Criminal Code defines organized crime as a group of three or more people whose purpose is the commission of one or more serious offences that would “likely result in the direct or indirect receipt of a material benefit, including a financial benefit, by the group.” That is often through crimes such as gambling, prostitution or drug trafficking.


A Schedule I drug in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, Oxycodone is a potent opioid that can be useful when used judiciously for pain. However, it can cause physical dependence and addiction. 




Asking for money from people in a public place. The Criminal Code makes it an offence to impede or molest other persons in a public place.


A paralegal performs diverse legal tasks such as drafting and filing court documents, with their educational background and specific duties varying across Canadian provinces.

Parenting order

A court order that specifies who is the primary caregiver and when the other parent/guardian can see the child.


The Parliament of Canada is the federal legislature of Canada, comprising the monarch, the Senate and the House of Commons. By constitutional convention, the House of Commons is dominant, with the Senate rarely opposing its will.


Parole is a bridge between incarceration and return to the community. It is a conditional release, and contributes to the protection of society by allowing some offenders to continue to serve part of their sentence outside of the institution under the supervision of a parole officer and subject to conditions.

Parole Board of Canada

An independent administrative tribunal that makes quality conditional release and record suspension decisions, along with clemency recommendations

Peace officer

A peace office can be a mayor, warden, reeve, sheriff, deputy sheriff, sheriff’s officer, justice of the peace, prison warden or a police officer.  It can also be a pilot in charge of an aircraft when it is in flight.


Lying to court or to police under oath or solemn affirmation, knowing the statement is false.

Permanent resident

Someone who is given permanent resident status in Canada but who is not a Canadian citizen, as they are still citizens of another country. They enjoy many of the same benefits of Canadian citizens, however they must maintain their status by meeting certain requirements such as the residency obligation.

Persistent absenteeism

Considered to be about 19 days a school year depending on the province or territory.


 An illegal hallucinogen better known as PCP or angel dust. A Schedule I drug in the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Plea bargaining

Plea bargaining is the negotiation between the prosecution and the defence whereby the defendant pleads guilty to a lesser offence.


Possessing a drug on your physical self, or knowingly in the custody of another person, or the place for the use or benefit of yourself or another person.

Possession and Acquisition Licence (PAL)

The document needed to posses a firearm even if you never use it. It is renewable every five years and as a general rule, applicants must have passed the Canadian Firearms Safety Course.

Possession of property obtained by crime

You can face this charge if you own or control items obtained by crime or that you should have known were illegally obtained.

Power of attorney

A legal document giving one person, or more than one person, the authority to manage your money and property on your behalf. In most of Canada the person you appoint is called an “attorney.” That person does not need to be a lawyer.


The concept that judges must follow the previous rulings of other judges in higher courts in their province or territory and the Supreme Court of Canada on the same issue.

Preliminary hearing

A hearing held in provincial court to determine if a case involving an indictable offence that carries a prison sentence of 14 years or more should proceed to trial.

Private bills

The intent of a private bill is to confer special powers or benefits upon one or more persons or body of persons, or to exclude one or more persons or body of persons from the general application of the law.

Prize fights

Organized events where two people exchange blows with their fists, hands or feet.


Probation is ordered by the Court and allows the offender to serve their sentence in the community, subject to conditions prescribed in a probation order.

Prohibited firearms

Prohibited weapons in Canada include: handguns with barrels equal to or less than 105 mm in length; handguns designed or adapted to discharge a 25 or 32 calibre cartridge; firearms adapted from a rifle or shotgun that are less than 660 mm in length or that have a barrel less than 457 mm in length; automatic firearms, whether or not altered to discharge only one projectile with one pressure of the trigger; and firearms prescribed to be prohibited firearms.

Prosecutorial stay

A stay directed by the Crown Attorney that expires after a year.


A transaction that involves both the purchase and the sale of sexual services, with only the purchase being illegal. It is also illegal to live on the material benefits of someone else's sex work.

Protection order

A court order made by a judge to help protect one person from another. The order lists conditions for a named individual to follow that may require that individual to have no contact, or limited contact, with the person being protected or that person's children and/or family.

Public bills

A public bill deal with matters of national interest and can be initiated by a Cabinet minister, which is then referred to as a “government bill." A individual MP may also initiate a public bill, in which case it is called a private member’s bill

Public intoxication

Where a person is visibly drunk or under the influence of drugs in public. Someone may be charged with causing a disturbance if they are drunk in a public place.

Public mischief

A false report that results in an unnecessary investigation and the waste of public resources.

Public official

Someone employed by the government or appointed or elected to discharge a public duty.

Public urination

The discharge of urine from the body in a public place. Municipal governments may have legislation dealing with this issue.



Reasonable doubt

The Supreme Court of Canada has said that reasonable doubt “falls much closer to absolute certainty than to proof on a balance of probabilities” and “that something less than absolute certainty is required, and that something more than probable guilt is required."

Record suspension

A record suspension removes a person's criminal record from the Canadian Police Information Centre database. This helps them access employment and educational opportunities and to reintegrate into society.

Resisting arrest

Physically resisting the attempts of a peace officer to detain you or another person. This offence requires more than mere passive uncooperative behaviour.

Resisting arrest

Interfering with a peace officer's attempt to perform a lawful arrest.


The party that answers or defends against an appeal.


An order requiring the offender to pay the victim for financial losses the victim suffered because of the crime.

Restricted firearm

According to the Code, a restricted weapon is: a handgun that is not a prohibited firearm; a firearm that is not a prohibited firearm, has a barrel less than 470 mm in length, and is capable of discharging centre-fire ammunition in a semi-automatic manner; a firearm that is designed or adapted to be fired when reduced to a length of less than 660 mm by folding, telescoping or otherwise; or a firearm of any other kind that is prescribed to be a restricted firearm.

Retainer Agreement

A contract that sets out the obligations of both the lawyer and client. Confirming what exact services are to be provided manages client expectations and reduces the risk of misunderstanding.


When force or intimidation is used or threatened to take property from another person.

Royal Assent

Royal Assent is the approval by the Sovereign of a bill that has passed both houses of Parliament in identical form. It is the process by which a bill becomes an act of Parliament and part of the law of Canada. In Canada, Royal Assent is given by the Governor General or one of the Governor General’s deputies (a Justice of the Supreme Court of Canada or a senior official such as the Secretary to the Governor General).

Royal commission

They are appointed under Part 1 by the Governor in Council and must report their findings to the Cabinet but are otherwise independent of government influence. Generally speaking, Royal commissions tend to be broader in scope than other forms of governmental inquiry, often holding cross-country public hearings followed up by formal findings and recommendations.




A destructive act that could harm the safety, security or defence of Canada, its Armed Forces or other militaries operating legally in the country.

Schedule I

Schedule I drugs are commonly characterized as “hard drugs.” They include street drugs such as heroin, cocaine, and opium and numerous pharmaceutical-grade drugs such as oxycodone and morphine. Schedule I drugs show a high risk of dependency. See Schedule I of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Schedule II

Schedule II drugs include synthetic cannabinoid receptor type 1 agonists, their salts, derivatives, isomers, and salts of derivatives and isomers. Until 2018 this category included drugs falling within the cannabis family but are now dealt with under the Cannabis Act. See Schedule II of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Schedule III

Schedule III drugs include the amphetamine family, including methamphetamine and lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as LSD. Most hallucinogens are classified under Schedule III. See Schedule III of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Schedule IV

Schedule IV drugs include popular pharmaceuticals such as diazepam, benzodiazepine and anabolic steroids. See Schedule IV of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.

Schedule V

Schedule V lists a group of novel fentanyl precursors used in the illegal production of fentanyl and substances chemically related to fentanyl. See Schedule V of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.


Anything that encourages citizens to rebel against the government.


A person is not guilty of an offence if they reasonably believe on reasonable grounds that force was being used against them or another person. or that a threat of force was made. They can act in self defence to protect themselves or the other person, as long as their actions are reasonable in the circumstances.


At the end of a trial, the jury will enter the jury room to begin deliberations. The sequestration period begins, as the jury must reach an unanimous verdict before they are released, avoiding all outside contact.

Serious offence

An indictable offence for which the maximum punishment is imprisonment for five years or more.

Sexual assault

An assault of a sexual nature that violates the sexual integrity of the victim. The Supreme Court has ruled that the act of sexual assault does not depend solely on contact with any specific part of the human anatomy but rather if the act violates the sexual integrity of the victim.

Sexual interference

When a person touches any part of the body of someone under the age of 16 for a sexual purpose. The touching can be done with any part of their body or with an object.

Sexual procuring

To arrange a sex act with a paying customer. The Code makes it an offence to receives financial or other material benefit from the illegal sex acts of others

Sexual services

An act that is sexual in nature and whose purpose is to sexually gratify the person who receives it.


Every vessel not permanently attached to the seabed, other than a warship, a ship being used as a naval auxiliary or for customs or police purposes, or a ship that has been withdrawn from navigation or is laid up.


Intentionally taking an item from a merchant without paying for it. It is a form of theft and offenders can be charged.


The administration of a street drug under the skin, which allows it to diffuse slowly, extending the duration of the feeling of euphoria.

Sole practitioner

A lawyer who operates a firm without any other partners. This is the simplest structure for a law practice with the fewest formal business registrations required.

Solicitor-client privilege

A privilege that makes most communications between a lawyer and her client confidential. It is rooted in the confidential nature of the solicitor-client relationship.


Punishment that may be legal if it is “transitory and trifling” in nature. The Code stipulates that the force cannot exceed what is "reasonable under the circumstances."


Driving a vehicle over the posted speed limit. If you are charged with a vehicular-related offence under the Code and were speeding, that will be considered an aggravating factor in your sentencing.

Stay of proceedings

To stop or put a hold on a legal proceeding, as stays can be temporary or permanent.


A legal document requiring a person to testify before the court or to produce documents.

Summary conviction

Summary convictions are used for lesser offences with penalties, fines and short jail time. They reflect the majority of offences as defined in the Code.

Summary offence

Summary offences are less-serious criminal offences such as disturbing the peace or unlawful assembly

Suspended licence

A prohibition against driving imposed by the court or licensing authority for various reasons, such as accumulation of traffic offence demerit points, drunk driving, dangerous driving or failure to pay fines.



Tax evasion

Involves falsifying records, hiding income or inflating expenses in order to pay less tax. Charges may be laid under the Income Tax Act and the Excise Tax Act.

Tax fraud

Involves using deceit or fraudulent means to defraud a person or the public. Charges may be laid under the Criminal Code.


An offence motivated by “a political, religious or ideological purpose, objective or cause" with the intention of intimidating the public. Activities within this context include the use of violence, endangering the health and safety of the public and interference with essential services, facilities or systems.

Terrorist entities

A person, group, trust, partnership or fund or an unincorporated association or organization facilitating or carrying out of terrorist activities.


Testimony is oral or written evidence given by the witness under oath, affidavit, or deposition during a trial.


Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the chemical responsible for most of marijuana's psychological effects. THC can induce hallucinations, change thinking and cause delusions.


The recruitment, transportation, harbouring and influence over the movements of a person in order to exploit them, typically through sexual exploitation or forced labour. It is often described as a modern form of slavery.


Being on someone’s property without permission, or refusing to leave when asked. The Code makes it a crime to loiter on someone's property.


It is any intentional, unjustified or unauthorized absence from school, and does not refer to legitimate absences, such as ones caused by a medical condition.

Truant officer

 A person appointed to ensure students attend school. In many jurisdictions these positions have been abolished with their duties assumed by police.



Unlawfully at large

Escaping from jail, failing to comply with conditions of parole or fleeing from police after being placed under arrest are examples of being unlawfully at large.

Uttering threats

When someone says or conveys a threat to cause a person’s death, bodily harm or damage to property. It also includes threatening to kill, poison or injure an animal or bird that is the property of any person.




The condition of not having a lawful profession or the means to financially maintain yourself. It is usually accompanied by being homeless.


Wilfully damaging public or private property. It can include graffiti, breaking a window, or anything that may affect someone else's lawful use and enjoyment or operation of a property.

Vehicular manslaughter

There is no single Criminal Code charge dealing with a death as a result of a driving incident. It is prosecuted under different sections depending on the circumstances.

Victim impact statement

A description of the physical or emotional harm, property damage or economic loss suffered as a result of the crime.




Anything used, designed to be used or intended for the use of causing death or injury to any person or threatening or intimidating any person. It can also be anything that is used to bind or tie someone up against their will

White-collar crime

A non-violent crime where the primary motive is typically financial in nature, usually carried out by those in business or management positions

Window pane

An LSD gelatin that may contain slightly more acid per piece than a regular hit.


Someone who gives evidence in a court proceeding. Witnesses usually possess knowledge or proof that is relevant to the facts of a case and they convey their relevant knowledge under oath.



Young offender

A term for a  person between 12 to 17 years old who is charged with a crime. Their cases are usually heard in Youth Court, with punishments guided by the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Young person

Those 12 years old or older, but less than 18.

Youth court

Youth justice courts deal with any alleged offences committed by those ages 12 to 17, in accordance with the Youth Criminal Justice Act.

Youth Court judge

An appointed member of the judiciary who conducts youth court proceedings according to the rules set down by the Youth Criminal Justice Act.