What is the difference between a Crown Pretrial and Judicial Pretrial in Ontario?

When an accused is charged with a crime in Ontario, the process is more or less the same across the province.   The accused will get a first appearance court date and appear in court to receive his/her disclosure.  This is really the initial stage of a criminal case.  Once disclosure is received the accused is in a position to have a crown pretrial.  The crown pretrial can be conducted by telephone or in person.  A crown pretrial is just a fancy way of saying, “meeting”.  In the pretrial the criminal defence lawyer has a discussion with the crown (the prosecutor) to discuss the following: the crown position (how much time the crown is looking for on a plea), any weaknesses in the case, the length of a potential trial, the character of the accused and why the crown should consider withdrawing the case or giving a lesser sentence.  Usually, if a crown position is given and a deal is struck in the pretrial, the Crown cannot renege on the deal.    In many criminal cases in Ontario, the Crown Attorney and defence lawyer will agree that some issues should be discussed with a Judge as well.  These meetings are called, “judicial pretrials” and are usually done in person although I have conducted many on the phone as well.  In this meeting, the Crown Attorney and defence lawyer meet with a Judge and talk about the case again.  Topics discussed are similar to that of the Crown pretrial, including the judge’s opinion about the strengths and weaknesses of the case, possible resolutions and trial time estimates.  These discussions are without prejudice (meaning they are not binding on anyone) but they are usually very meaningful.  In many cases, the Judge can persuade a Crown Attorney to give the accused a favourable resolution position.  If you are self represented and have questions about conducting a pretrial, don’t hesitate to give me a call at 905-789-9007.  I would be happy to give you a free confidential consultation.

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