Provincial Court

Definitions

The following is a list of defined terms frequently used in Adult Criminal and Youth Court.

Accused
A person who is charged with having committed an offence. The term is often used interchangeably with defendant.
Appeal
A person not satisfied with the outcome of his or her case may ask an appeal court to review the judge's decision in order to ensure that there were no errors. Either the Crown or defence may appeal a case to a higher court within 30 days from the date of conviction.
Appearance Notice
A form issued by a police officer compelling the appearance of an accused to answer to a charge. The appearance notice outlines the date, time and location of court. Failure to appear may result in a warrant of arrest being issued for the accused.
Committal to Trial
A person is committed to stand trial in a higher court when a judge finds there is sufficient evidence to order the accused to trial.
Court Reporter
Court staff member assigned to record everything that is said when court is in session and prepare transcripts as required.
Crown Counsel (Crown Attorney)
A lawyer who, on behalf of Her Majesty the Queen, conducts the prosecution of cases.
Defence Counsel
A lawyer who represents an accused person or defendant before the court.
Discharge (absolute and conditional)
An offender who is granted an absolute or conditional discharge is deemed by law to have been found guilty but not to have been convicted.
  • Absolute discharge - the person is discharged absolutely, without conditions. Taking all factors into account, the judge feels it is not necessary to impose conditions.
  • Conditional discharge - the person is placed on probation with specific conditions such as no contact or communications with another party. If the conditions are followed, then no conviction is entered at the termination of the probation order. However, should the conditions be violated, the person may be convicted of the original offence and sentenced accordingly.
Disposition
The sentence an accused person receives is his or her disposition.
Duty Counsel
The lawyer appointed by the Newfoundland Legal Aid Commission, to give initial representation to the accused on plea day.
Election
A person charged with having committed indictable offences, with the exception of treason and murder, may elect to be tried by a Provincial Court judge, a Supreme Court judge alone, or a Supreme Court judge and jury.
Ex Parte/In Absentia
A matter heard ex parte is heard in the absence of the accused person. For example, summary conviction offences may be heard in the absence of the accused.
Fine
A sentence which may be imposed on a convicted person whereby he or she may be ordered to pay a specific amount of money as punishment.
First Appearance/Plea Day
This is the first appearance day for any person charged with an offence.
Indictable Offence
This is a more serious criminal charge as distinguished from a summary offence and carries a higher penalty.
Judge
Person who presides over courtroom proceedings and renders a decision.
Pardon
See record suspension.
Postponement
A postponement occurs when a matter is delayed to a future date for continuation. A postponement cannot be granted over the telephone or by mail.
Preliminary Inquiry
An inquiry that is made by a judge with a view to satisfying himself or herself as to whether or not there is sufficient evidence for an accused to be committed to stand trial in a higher court.
Record Suspension (formerly known as a pardon)
A waiting period must be completed before a person can apply for a record suspension. Depending on the offence, this period can vary from 5 to 10 years and some offences are not eligible for record suspension. Applications are made to the Parole Board of Canada.
Subpoena
A writ issued under authority of a court to compel the appearance of a witness at a judicial proceeding, the disobedience of which may be punishable as a contempt of court.
Summary Offence
An offence of a less serious nature and carrying a lesser penalty than an indictable offence.
Summons
An order requiring an accused to appear in court to answer to a charge. The summons outlines the date, time and location of the court. Failure to appear may result in a warrant of arrest being issued.
Suspended Sentence
Unless a minimum punishment is prescribed by law, the court has the power to suspend the passing of sentence and place the offender on probation for up to three years. It is the passing of the sentence, not the sentence itself that is being suspended. This means that if the person is convicted of another offence during the period when the passing of sentence had been suspended, then the person may be sentenced for the original offence.
Warrant of Arrest
A written order issued by the court directing the arrest of a person.
Witness
One who gives evidence in a case before the court. A witness is compelled by law to appear on the time and date specified. Failure to do so could result in a warrant being issued for the arrest of the witness. Under the provisions of Section 37(1) of the Jury Act, an employer of a person, who is required to attend upon court as a witness, shall pay that person the same wages and give the same benefits as that person would have received if he or she had worked.