If something is a crime there must be a written law making it a crime. The law must clearly set out what is not allowed. People charged with a crime have certain rights. They are presumed to be innocent unless the charge is proven in court or they admit to the charge. The law sets out certain consequences for people who are convicted of a crime.

Criminal Acts

Criminal law sets a standard for behaviour that everyone must meet. People are expected to know what behaviour and actions are criminal. Criminal acts include things like theft, assault, driving while impaired, possessing illegal drugs, and murder.

Criminal Charges

If the police have evidence that you have committed a crime, they can charge you with a criminal offence. If you are charged it means that the police are formally accusing you of committing a crime.


If you were charged with a crime and not released you will have a bail hearing. Understanding the factors that the court considers when deciding whether to release you, and what conditions to impose, can help you prepare to argue for your release.

Your Rights

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives anyone arrested, detained or charged with a crime certain rights. These include the right to remain silent, the right to a lawyer and the right to a fair trial.

Criminal Trials

If you have been charged with a crime you will need to go to court. If you do not admit to the crime there will be a trial. The Crown Prosecutor needs to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime.

Criminal Consequences

If you admit to a crime or are found guilty you will be sentenced for your crime. Depending on the crime and other circumstances the sentence could be a fine, jail time, or probation. Being convicted of a crime can affect your immigration status. Having a criminal record can also limit some employment and education opportunities.