In some provinces/territories, the police lay charges, in others, the Crown prosecutor does. In other situations, the police will consult with the Crown prosecutor and the complainant.
Criminal charges are laid when:
- the police have talked to the Complainant/victim
- there is enough evidence to show that a crime was committed
- the police are able to determine who is responsible for the crime
- the police have spoken to the Crown prosecutor
While there are guidelines to follow when deciding to charge a person with a criminal offence, some flexibility or choice still exists. For example, the police may decide not to lay a charge if the victim does not want to pursue the matter.
In crimes such as child abuse and domestic violence, the police have specific guidelines to lay charges.
Where there is enough evidence and a decision is made to charge the person responsible, the person is now an accused and is taken before the courts.