What is an Election?
Election refers to the ability of the Crown and/or the accused to choose which court will have jurisdiction over a criminal charge. Moreover, in certain cases the accused must decide whether to have the case heard by a jury or by a judge alone.
This page provides location-specific information on the election and plea process in Calgary. For a broad overview of how elections and plea bargains work in Canada, please see the general Election and Plea FAQ.
Criminal offences are classified into three categories—summary, indictable, and hybrid. Summary offences are typically considered less serious and carry comparatively lower penalties. Conversely, indictable offences are more serious and carry higher maximum penalties. Hybrid offences allow the Crown the discretion to elect to try the offence either by way of indictment or summary conviction.
For more information on offence classification and its impact on Crown and defence election, please see the general Election and Plea FAQ
In the case of a hybrid offence, the Crown must make an election. If they elect to proceed via summary conviction, the matter will be heard before a judge at the Alberta provincial courthouse nearest you. If they proceed by way of indictment, the accused (defence) also must make an election.
When the Crown proceeds by indictment, the defence must choose whether the matter will be heard before the Provincial Court of Alberta or whether it will be heard before the superior court (the Alberta Court of Queen’s Bench in Calgary).
Where the defence elects to have their trial heard before the superior court, they will also have the right to choose whether they would like the trial to be heard before a judge and a jury, or a judge alone.
Exceptions to the general election rule
For more information on defence election and to see exceptions to the general election rule, please see the general Election and Plea FAQ.
What is a Plea?
If an election is available (even if you intend to plead guilty), you must elect to be tried by the court before which you intend to enter the plea. Pleading guilty is a formal admission of guilt to the offence charged. In other words, you are consenting to a guilty verdict and waiving the trial process.
For more information on elections, pleas, and the overall criminal trial process, please see the below FAQs. As elections and pleas are highly context-specific, please contact one of our experienced criminal lawyers to discuss your case.
- What does making an “election” mean?
- I have already pleaded guilty or not guilty. Can I change my plea?
- How does a criminal trial work in Canada?
- See more