Criminal Code (Canada)
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Criminal Code Canada
Criminal Code
An Act respecting the Criminal Law
CitationRSC 1985, c C-46
Enacted byParliament of Canada
EnactedFirst enacted: SC 1892, c 29; carried forward in statute revisions, RSC 1906, c 146 and RSC 1927, c 36; substantially revised and re-enacted, SC 1953-54, c 51; carried forward in statute revisions, RSC 1970, c C-34 and RSC 1985, c C-46

The Criminal Code[1] (French: Code criminel[2]) is a law that codifies most criminal offences and procedures in Canada. Its official long title is "An Act respecting the criminal law" (R.S.C. 1985, c. C-46, as amended). Section 91(27) of the Constitution Act, 1867 establishes the sole jurisdiction of Parliament over criminal law in Canada.

The Criminal Code contains some defences, but most are part of the common law rather than statute. Important Canadian criminal laws not forming part of the code include the Firearms Act, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act, the Canada Evidence Act, the Food and Drugs Act, the Youth Criminal Justice Act and the Contraventions Act.

One of the conveniences of the Criminal Code was that it constituted the principle that no person would be able to be convicted of a crime unless otherwise specifically outlined and stated in a statute. This legal document has played a major part in Canada's history and has also helped form other legal acts and laws, for example, the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act.[3]


Picture of the first page of the Criminal Code, 1892
Canadian Criminal Cases collection

The main body of the Criminal Code is divided into the following major components:

  • Part I - General
  • Part II - Offences Against Public Order
  • Part II.1 - Terrorism
  • Part III - Firearms and Other Weapons
  • Part IV - Offences Against the Administration of Law and Justice
  • Part V - Sexual Offences, Public Morals and Disorderly Conduct
  • Part VI - Invasion of Privacy
  • Part VII - Disorderly Houses, Gaming and Betting
  • Part VIII - Offences Against the Person and Reputation
  • Part VIII.1 - Offences Relating to Conveyances
  • Part IX - Offences Against Rights of Property
  • Part X - Fraudulent Transactions Relating to Contracts and Trade
  • Part XI - Wilful and Forbidden Acts in Respect of Certain Property
  • Part XII - Offences Relating to Currency
  • Part XII.2 - Proceeds of Crime
  • Part XIII - Attempts-Conspiracies-Accessories
  • Part XIV - Jurisdiction
  • Part XV - Special Procedure and Powers
  • Part XVI - Compelling Appearance of an Accused Before a Justice and Interim Release
  • Part XVII - Language of Accused
  • Part XVIII - Procedure on Preliminary Inquiry
  • Part XVIII.1 - Case Management Judge
  • Part XIX - Indictable Offences-Trial Without a Jury
  • Part XIX.1 - Nunavut Court of Justice
  • Part XX - Procedure in Jury Trials and General Provisions
  • Part XX.1 - Mental Disorder
  • Part XXI - Appeals-Indictable Offences
  • Part XXI.1 - Applications for Ministerial Review-Miscarriages of Justice
  • Part XXII - Procuring Attendance
  • Part XXII.1 - Remediation Agreements
  • Part XXIII - Sentencing
  • Part XXIV - Dangerous Offenders and Long-Term Offenders
  • Part XXV - Effect and Enforcement of Recognizances
  • Part XXVI - Extraordinary Remedies
  • Part XXVII - Summary Convictions
  • Part XXVIII - Miscellaneous

The main body is followed by schedules (i.e. appendices) relating to some of the above-mentioned Parts and a series of prescribed legal forms, such as Form 5 which sets out the proper legal wording for a search warrant.

History and evolution

The Criminal Code has been revised numerous times, and has also seen its application affected by other significant legislation:

Evolution of the Criminal Code (Canada), 1892–Present
Act In force Highlights
The Criminal Code, 1892, S.C. 1892, c. 29 July 1, 1893 Sponsored by Minister of Justice Sir John Sparrow David Thompson, it was based on the "Stephen Code", written by Sir James Fitzjames Stephen for a Royal Commission in England in 1879, and subsequently modified by Canadian jurist George Burbidge to address the Canadian context. Its significant provisions included:
  • Ousting from Canadian criminal law any offence under an Act of the British Parliament, "unless such Act is, by the express terms thereof, or of some other Act of such Parliament, made applicable to Canada or some portion thereof as part of Her Majesty's dominions or possessions."[4]
  • Standardization of the age of criminal culpability, so that no juvenile under the age of seven could be convicted, and those between the ages of seven and thirteen could be convicted only where they were "competent to know the nature and consequences of the conduct, and to appreciate that it was wrong."[5]
An Act respecting Arrest, Trial and Imprisonment of Youthful Offenders, S.C. 1894, c. 58 July 23, 1894 Provided for the separation of juvenile offenders from older persons and habitual criminals during arrest, confinement, trial and subsequent imprisonment, as well as integrating efforts with those of children's aid organizations being organized by the provinces.
The Juvenile Delinquents Act, 1908, S.C. 1908, c. 40 Implemented over time by specific proclamations, with respect to a specified province or a portion thereof.[6] The Juvenile Delinquents Act was designed to operate in a similar manner to the Probation of Offenders Act 1907 passed by the British Parliament in the previous year, as well as the juvenile delinquent provisions contained in the later Children Act 1908.

While the minimum age for those subject to the Act remained at seven years, the maximum age varied by province. By 1982, it was set at 16 in six provinces, 17 for British Columbia and Newfoundland, and 18 for Quebec and Manitoba.[7]

Criminal Code, S.C. 1953-54, c. 51 April 1, 1955[8] Reenactment of the Code, with modernization of provisions. It abolished all common law offences (other than for contempt of court), as well as any offences created by the British Parliament or in effect under an Act or ordinance in any place before becoming part of Canada.[9]
Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-69, S.C. 1968-69, c. 38 Various, from July 1, 1969 to January 1, 1970 An omnibus bill promoted by Pierre Elliott Trudeau, the Criminal Law Amendment Act, 1968-69 provided for the decriminalization of homosexual acts between consenting adults, the legalization of abortion, contraception and lotteries, new gun ownership restrictions as well as the authorization of breathalyzer tests on suspected drunk drivers.
Young Offenders Act, S.C. 1980-81-82-83, c. 110 April 2, 1984.[10] The Young Offenders Act raised the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 12 years, and standardized the maximum age to 16-18 years (depending on the province), as well as setting limits on the length of sentence that could be imposed.
Anti-terrorism Act, S.C. 2001, c. 41 December 24, 2001 (principally)[11] Enacted in response to the terrorist attack against the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001, the Anti-Terrorism Act included provisions regarding the financing of terrorism, the establishment of a list of terrorist entities, the freezing of property, the forfeiture of property, and participating, facilitating, instructing and harbouring of terrorism.
Youth Criminal Justice Act, S.C. 2002, c. 1 April 1, 2003[12] The Youth Criminal Justice Act was passed to address concerns raised by the effects of the Young Offenders Act.

See also



  1. ^ The citation of this Act by this short title is authorised by the English text of section 1 of this Act.
  2. ^ The citation of this Act by this short title is authorised by the French text of section 1 of this Act.
  3. ^ "1892, Canada's Criminal Code". - Learn Law. Retrieved .
  4. ^ 1892 Code, s. 5
  5. ^ 1892 Code, ss. 9-10
  6. ^ 1908 Act, s. 36
  7. ^ Robin, Laura (26 May 1982). "Laws affecting young to change". Ottawa Citizen. p. 47.
  8. ^ An Act to amend the Criminal Code, S.C. 1955, c. 2
  9. ^ 1953-54 Act, ss. 7-8
  10. ^ Young Offenders Act: Proclaimed in force April 2, 1984, SI/84-56
  11. ^ [ Order Fixing December 24, 2001 as the Date of the Coming into Force of Certain Sections of the Act], SI/2002-16
  12. ^ [ Order Fixing April 1, 2003 as the Date of the Coming into Force of the Act], SI/2002-91

External links

  This article uses material from the Wikipedia page available here. It is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.



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