Find out about the court process

  1. Steps in the court process
  2. Trial
  3. Alternative processes
  4. Youth Court
  5. Sentencing
  6. Probation and parole

If a charge has been laid against the accused, the case will enter the criminal court system. Testimonial aids may be available to a victim, including:

  • testifying behind a screen;
  • having a court cleared of spectators; or
  • a publication ban on evidence.

Learn legal terms used in the criminal justice system.

  1. Steps in the court process

    Once the police lay a charge against a person, the case enters the court system.

    Court appearances

    There may be several court appearances before a trial starts. The purpose of these are to:

    • ask for adjournments while the accused finds a lawyer or gets more information about the charges;
    • enter a guilty or not-guilty plea; and
    • let the court know the Crown and defence are ready for trial.

    Victims do not have to attend these appearances. The court is open to the public and anyone can attend.

    Victim Services can:

    • go with you to court; or
    • attend court and keep you updated about what happens before the trial.

    If the accused pleads guilty:

    1. They are admitting to and accepting responsibility for the crime.
    2. There will be no trial.

    The next step is for the judge to decide the appropriate sentence. This might happen the same day as the guilty plea, or will scheduled on another day.

    Victims can write a victim impact statement. A community can also write a community impact statement. The judge will read the statements before they make a decision on the sentence.

    Alternative process

    There are 2 therapeutic courts in Yukon;

    To enter these programs, the accused has to:

    • apply and get a suitability assessment;
    • plead guilty; and
    • complete programming.

    The programs they complete can reduce their sentence. 

    When the accused pleads not-guilty:

    1. A trial date is set.
    2. Crown and defence counsel will estimate the amount of time required for the trial.

    Indictable offence

    This is a more serious crime. It carries a greater maximum sentence. There's no time limit on when the crown can prosecute these.

    The accused may have the option to have their trial in:

    • Territorial Court; or
    • Supreme Court.

    Supreme Court 

    In Supreme Court, an accused has the option of a trial with: 

    • a judge alone; or
    • a judge sitting with a jury.

    Preliminary hearing

    For some offenses in Supreme Court, the accused may have the option to have a preliminary hearing.

    The preliminary hearing is like a mini-trial. Victims and witnesses have to testify at the preliminary hearing. The hearing helps the court to decide if there's enough evidence to convict the accused. 

    If the judge decides there is:

    • enough evidence, they will order a trial; or
    • not enough evidence, the judge will dismiss the charges against the accused.
  2. Trial

    If an accused enters a plea of not-guilty to some or to all the charges, a trial will occur on those specific charges.

    The trial may take place in the Territorial Court or the Supreme Court. The trial process is similar in both.

    Calling witnesses

    The crown prosecutor and defence lawyer will call witnesses to testify at the trial. 

    The crown prosecutor's role is to bring evidence to the court to prove that the accused committed the crime. They do this by calling witnesses such as:

    • the police;
    • the victim; and
    • any other people who witnessed the crime or can provide relevant evidence.

    The accused’s lawyer (the defence lawyer) may or may not call witnesses, including the accused. All the witnesses called by the crown prosecutor can be cross-examined by the defence lawyer.

    Victim’s role at the trial

    The victim does not have or need a lawyer in a criminal justice case. The Crown is not the victim’s lawyer, but works for the government and acts on behalf of the public.

    A victim can get legal advice before reporting a crime or before testifying. Their lawyer cannot represent them at the trial. 

    Testifying

    You will receive a subpoena that will tell you when you need to be in court to testify.

    If you are a victim, you may be concerned about being cross-examined by the defence lawyer. It can be an emotional and challenging experience.

    The accused has the legal right to defend the charges against them. So, the accused's lawyer needs to be able to ask you questions.

    Victim Service workers can help prepare you for what it might be like to testify. Victim Service workers work with the crown prosecutor and crown witness coordinators who can prepare you to:

    • provide evidence; and
    • be cross-examined at trial.

    Finding of guilty or not-guilty

    Both the crown prosecutor and defence lawyer will summarize their cases at the end of the trial. The judge or jury will then decide if the accused is guilty or not-guilty.

    If the accused is found guilty of some or all their charges, there will be a sentencing hearing.

    If the accused is found not-guilty of all charges:

    • any conditions on the accused will be removed; and
    • the accused will be free to leave the courtroom.

    Appeal Process

    An appeal can be filed with a higher court by the:

    • crown prosecutor; or
    • defence lawyer.

    They can file an appeal if they think that the judge or jury made a mistake, in law or fact after:

    • decision at trial;
    • sentencing; or
    • both.
  3. Alternative processes

    Community Wellness Court

    The Yukon Community Wellness Court (CWC) is a therapeutic court.

    The court supports people with:

    • addictions;
    • mental health problems; and/or
    • Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).

    A team of professionals and community supports helps the offenders develop and follow a holistic wellness plan.

    The offender must plead guilty and choose to go through this therapeutic court. The crown may consider victim input in this court.

    To learn more, visit the Community Wellness Court site.

    Domestic Violence Treatment Options (DVTO) Court

    There is also a court for offenders who've committed domestic violence.

    Learn about Domestic Violence Treatment Option.

  4. Youth Court

    For offenders between 12 and 17 years old, the case will go into the youth criminal justice system. If it's a serious and violent offence, the Crown can apply to have the youth tried in adult court.

    Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA)

    Under this Act, police and the Crown have options for how to proceed with a youth suspected of committing a crime.

    Extrajudicial measure

    • Includes informal measures such as warnings, cautions, and referrals.
    • Keeps youth accountable without involving the courts.
    • Can be adequate to hold 1st-time, non-violent offenders accountable.

    Extrajudicial sanction

    This is also called a "diversion" and is:

    • applied through more formal programs;
    • used when more informal measures are not enough to hold a youth accountable; and
    • used when the young person accepts responsibility for the crime.

    Judicial measure

    This is a formal court proceeding. In court, the young person may plead:

    • guilty, in which case they will be sentenced; or
    • not-guilty, in which case the matter will go to trial.

    At trial:

    1. Each side presents its case before a Youth Court judge.
    2. The judge will decide whether there's proof beyond a reasonable doubt that the you committed the offence.
    3. If a young person pleads guilty or is found guilty, judges will sentence the youth to hold them accountable. Learn about sentencing options for youth.

    Victim's rights under the Youth Criminal Justice Act (YCJA)

    Under the YCJA, a victim should have:

    • access to information about relevant justice processes; and
    • be given opportunities to participate.

    For example, a victim may:

    • learn the identity of the young person accused of the crime, although by law this information may not be published or shared with others;
    • be informed about the court process;
    • be informed about extrajudicial sanctions;
    • testify during the youth’s trial;
    • provide input to Victim Services for the Youth Justice Panel; and
    • prepare a victim impact statement on the harmful effects of the crime, which is shared with the court before sentencing.

    To learn more

  5. Sentencing

    A sentence is the court-ordered consequence for being convicted of a crime. When an offender pleads guilty or is found guilty of a crime, a judge decides what the sentence should be.

    Victim's rights in sentencing

    The victim has the right to write a victim impact statement for the judge to consider in their sentencing.

    The victim can attend the sentencing hearing. Victim Services can go with the victim to the sentencing and can help explain the procedures.

    The victim has the right to information after a sentencing. They can:

    • get information about the sentence;
    • get information about any jail time or probation ordered; and
    • be informed of the accused's status in jail and their release date.

    Find out about victims' rights.

  6. Probation and parole

    Probation is not a territorial responsibility. Parole will only apply when an offender is sent to a federal facility outside of Yukon.

    Probation

    Probation officers supervise adult offenders who are subject to certain conditions. Youth Probation Services supervise youth offenders.

    • A probation order is 1 of many court orders that a judge can impose.
    • A probation order is usually imposed instead of a jail term.
    • A sentence can combine jail time and probation.

    A variety of conditions are usually attached to the probation order. These can include:

    • curfew;
    • no contact with a victim;
    • abstain from alcohol and drugs; and
    • regular check-in with a probation officer.

    Probation officers ensure offenders follow their conditions.

    To learn more about probation, visit Yukon Community Corrections.

    Victims' concerns

    Victims can express their concerns:

    • at the sentencing hearing by completing a victim impact statement; and
    • during the probation, to Victim Services or to a probation officer;

    If you know an offender is breaking a condition of their probation order, you should immediately contact:

    • RCMP
      • in Whitehorse phone 667-5555; and
      • in other communities dial the 3 number prefix followed by 5555.
    • Yukon Community Corrections

    Youth probation

    Offenders between the ages of 12 and 17, may be supervised through programs such as:

    • extrajudicial sanctions;
    • probation;
    • community court orders; and
    • custody and community supervision orders.

    Youth probation is provided by:

    • Youth Probation Services in Whitehorse; and
    • regional social workers in communities.

    Visit Youth Justice for more information.

    Parole

    National Parole Board oversees parole. It's only applied to jail sentences over 2 years when the offender is sent to a federal facility. Parole may be granted after the offender has served a part of their sentence.

    An offender who is granted parole may:

    • live in the community, but under supervision; and
    • be subject to certain conditions until their sentence is completed.

    Parole can include day parole, full parole or statutory release.

    Breach of parole conditions

    If you know an offender is breaking a condition of their parole, you should contact immediately:

    • RCMP
      • in Whitehorse phone 667-5555; and
      • in other communities dial the 3 number prefix followed by 5555.
    • Parole officers at 1-866-806-2275

    Learn more about parole, visit Correctional Service Canada, Parole and Community Corrections.

    Victims and parole hearings

    1. The Parole Board must notify victims of parole hearings.
      • A victim must apply for victim status before the Parole Board is able to provide notification.
    2. The Parole Board may seek statements from victims when considering a parole decision.
    3. A victim can make a victim impact statement at a parole hearing.

    Victims notification – federal system and parole

    The victim can ask to be kept informed of changes such as:

    • an offender’s move from one institution to another;
    • the grant of a conditional release;
    • the release date, destination and conditions of release (usually 14 days before the release); and
    • a current photo of the offender at the time of certain releases, or at the end of the offender's sentence.

    Read a complete list of notification information.

    To find out more, visit Information for Victim of Correctional Service Canada.


Contact 

Victim Services

You can phone or drop in to talk to Victim Services (no appointment required) Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Email: victim.services@gov.yk.ca

Whitehorse

In person: 301 Jarvis Street, 2nd floor
Phone: 867-667-8500
Toll free: 1-800-661-0408, extension 8500

Dawson City

In person: 813B 3rd Avenue
Phone: 867-993-5831

Watson Lake

In person: 820 Adela Trail
Phone: 867-536-2541