Learn the key roles in the criminal justice system

There are many different roles in the criminal justice system.

Bail supervisor

An offender released on bail conditions, will receive a “recognizance”. This means they will be supervised by a bail supervisor, who is often also a probation officer. The offender is normally released on bail conditions shortly after being charged with an offence.

Crown prosecutor

  • Works for the government, in the public interest.
  • Is not the victim’s lawyer.
  • Does not take instructions from the victim.
  • Looks at:
    • whether or not there is enough evidence to find the accused guilty; and
    • if pursuing a case is in the public interest.

Crown witness co-ordinator

  • Provides support and information to victims and witnesses who testify in court.
  • Works for the federal government.
  • Supports and accompanies a victim or a witness during the court process.
  • May refer victims to appropriate support and counselling services.
  • Can provide an orientation to the court room.
  • Supplies details on dates and the progress of a trial.

Defence lawyer

  • Is the accused’s lawyer.
  • Reviews the evidence.
  • Advises the accused to plead "guilty" or "not guilty."
  • Acts in the best interest of the accused.
  • Focuses on defending the accused.
  • Focuses on getting the best possible sentence for the accused.

Indigenous court worker

  • Ensures that Indigenous people charged with an offence receive assistance throughout the court process.
  • Provides referrals to legal, community justice and social programs.
  • Facilitates communication between the accused and criminal justice officials.

Judiciary (judge)

Trial by judge

Determines what happened, based on:

  • all of the evidence presented; and
  • the credibility of witnesses.

The judge determines:

  • what the law is in relation to the charges; and
  • applies the law to their findings of what happened.

Trial by jury

The supreme court judge:

  • summarizes the evidence for the jury; and
  • explains how the law applies to the charges before the court.

The jury then applies the law to the facts, with the help of the supreme court judge.

Jury

  • Occurs occasionally in the supreme court.
  • Has 12 people, generally from the community where the trial is held.
  • Is selected before the trial begins.

Parole board

An offender serving a prison term of more than 2 years (in a federal facility) can return to their community after 1/3 of the sentence has been served. Offenders apply to the Parole Board of Canada to get parole.

On release, a parole officer supervises the offender in the community.

Police

In Yukon, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) are our police force. They enforce federal laws, including the Criminal Code of Canada.

Once a crime is reported, the police will investigate. If they:

  • determine an offence has occurred; then
  • they will charge the individual believed to be responsible.

They will:

  • pull together all the evidence (into a “disclosure package”); and
  • forward the package to the crown prosecutor.

Probation officer

An offender sentenced to probation will receive a probation order. They will be released in the community. A probation officer will:

  • supervise the offender; and
  • make sure the offender complies with the probation conditions.

If the offender does not comply with the terms of the probation order, the probation officer may charge the offender with breaching the conditions.

The probation officer offers support and help to the offender. The offender:

  • may be referred to community-based programs and counselling; or
  • get help with finding a job or doing community service hours.

Victim Services worker

  • Supports the victim throughout the court process.
  • Provides information about the court process and criminal justice system.
  • Advocates for the victim’s safety.
  • Helps prepare the victim to participate and testify in court.
  • Lets the victim know about the status of the case.
  • Refers the victim to counselling and other support services.
  • Helps the victim prepare a victim impact statement.