For serious cases destined for trial by a judge or jury, a preliminary hearing in Ontario is scheduled for the accused in the Provincial Court. The purpose of a preliminary hearing is to see whether the Crown has the evidence needed to commit the accused person to stand trial. At this time, a judge will decide whether the Crown has enough evidence. Most people in Toronto who have a preliminary court hearing inquiry will go to trial. The purpose of a preliminary inquiry is to give your criminal defence lawyer the opportunity to explore the Crown’s case for your trial at a later date.
The types of offences which require a preliminary hearing in Ontario can range in seriousness. The smaller charges include solicitation of prostitution and making harassing telephone calls. The more serious charges include murder and aggravated assault. There are a variety of defence lawyers in Toronto that have varying degrees of experience and knowledge in different areas of criminal law. Please be sure that the criminal lawyer you choose has the skills needed to represent you effectively.
In Toronto courts, defence lawyers are retained and must represent the accused unless fired or forced to withdraw. The accused then can elect to have a trial by jury in the Canadian Superior Court, or a trial by judge alone in the Provincial Court (called Ontario Court of Justice in Ontario). Even if an accused elects trial by jury, prior to the trial the accused can re-elect to have a trial by a judge alone.